SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Soon residents of Sioux Falls will be able to travel to one east side location to visit all state offices located in the city. But not everyone is happy about the location.
Sioux Falls One Stop will host a number of state agencies including the Department of Social Services, Department of Labor and Regulation, Department of Health and Department of Education. Leah Haugan with the Bureau of Administration said that the new building will “greatly enhance services” to the people of Sioux Falls in one location.
“12 separate state agencies will move into this campus which will provide for agency offices that will satisfy the needs of both our customers and our state programs,” Haugan wrote via email.
On Wednesday, Gov. Kristi Noem’s office announced Bureau of Administration Commissioner Scott Bollinger would be retiring and the Bureau of Administration and Human Resources would be combined.
“This merger will streamline government processes for state employees and reduce bureaucratic overhead, making us more responsible with taxpayer dollars,” Noem said in a statement.
Democrat Rep. Kadyn Wittman is happy to see the consolidation of services to one building.
“I love the idea of taking all of these really critical departments that provide resources and programs for vulnerable individuals and putting them in one spot,” Wittman said Wednesday. “That’s why I am such an advocate for having our homeless shelters located downtown because they’re walkable to all of these different departments and resources.”
But the location of the Sioux Falls One Stop is where Wittman, and others, take issue.
“It disenfranchises unhoused and individuals in poverty,” Wittman explained. “These are individuals that typically rely on public transit and like I mentioned in my Twitter thread, our public transit system is not great in Sioux Falls.”
Wittman represents District 15 in central Sioux Falls
In a release, Dream Design of Rapid City announced that the location is “strategically” placed due to other amenities in the area as well as access to several bus stops. The building will be leased to the state.
Haugan said that location was picked based on land availability and proximity to public transportation, walking and biking trails, nearby businesses as well as grocery stores, clinics, schools and gas stations.
Around Dawley Farm Village there are four bus stops with the distance ranging between 0.5 and 0.7 miles. But, Wittman added, there are few sidewalks connecting the stops or just generally in the area.
“Unless they’re talking about expanding the infrastructure to make it walkable from that bus stop or unless they’re talking about adding an additional bus, bus stop at the One Stop. I don’t see how it’s a feasible option for people using public transit,” Wittman said.
Ideally, Wittman thinks the One Stop would be best in the downtown area where other services are located. As a former employee at Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, Wittman said she would often transport guests to state offices rather than making them rely on the transit system which now runs once an hour.
“There’s no bench for you and there’s no shelter for you, so you better hope it’s nice, clear, sunny day, and not too hot, right?” Wittman said. “And then here’s a ticket and I can only give you one ticket. So, you need to figure out if you have a transfer or not. Then we need to figure out how we’re going to pay for that. And here’s where you take the transfer and if you don’t have a cell phone to help guide you through this you are relying on very old school technology techniques.”
For those utilizing shelters and food pantries in the downtown area, the former location of the Department of Labor and Department of Social Services was close by. Now, the space where DSS is located will be used by the city to develop the Riverline District.
The One Stop project was already in the works before the city’s announcement came earlier this year, Mayor Paul TenHaken said in a discussion with the Downtown Rotary.
“I would be really interested to know if the state had any conversation with stakeholders, individuals who rely on these programs, the facilities like the Bishop Dudley, how is how is this going to impact them and their ability to serve their clients? You know, I do not feel like input was sought from the stakeholders that rely on these departments,” Wittman said.