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SF Council Considers Park Power Proposal

August 5, 2014, 5:53 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SF Council Considers Park Power Proposal

The Sioux Falls City Council wants more power over parks.

On Tuesday night, the council will take its first look at a proposed ordinance change that would give the council the authority to make park policy changes without the parks board.

Right now, changes and policy decisions have to go through the parks board before the city council can take action.

Prompted by the problems at Van Eps Park, the city council wants to speed up the process of changing policies at city parks.

"There are times when the council, the legislative body, needs to take action," Sioux Falls City Council Chairman Dean Karsky said.

The city is considering an alcohol ban at Van Eps Park because of recent issues with public drunkenness and violent assaults.  But the council's hands are currently tied as members wait for the parks board to consider the ban first at its August 19 monthly meeting.

Previous Story: Alcohol Causes Problems At City Parks 

Karsky says an ordinance change would allow the council to take action without the parks board.

"We're not trying to remove that power, or to reduce that power, but again, as elected officials we need to be able to take action when the time is necessary," Karsky said.

Parks Board President Pat Lloyd told KELOLAND News Tuesday that the parks board ‘thinks sometimes quick decisions need to be made.’

“We wouldn't want it to be a permanent thing where they continue to circumvent the parks board,” Lloyd added.

Despite the proposal, Karsky says it probably won't do much to speed up the changes at Van Eps Park.

"This ordinance that we're looking at (Tuesday) for the first reading is more long term. It's not going to solve the Van Eps problem any quicker than it would have had it come from the parks board," Karsky said.

That's because it will take at least another week before the council can give final approval to changing the authority ordinance, and then there is a waiting period before council members could actually start making decisions.

"We are empowering the council to do things that the citizens of Sioux Falls expect to be done," Karsky said.

Tuesday is just the first reading for the proposal. The second - and final reading - is scheduled to come on Tuesday, August 12.

The next meeting of the parks board is August 19.

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