PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State government wants the public’s ideas on making the memorial complex at Capitol Lake in Pierre more accessible and interactive, an official said Thursday.
Scott Bollinger told the state Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Commission that the project will take at least one and a half years and possibly up to two years. He is commissioner for the state Bureau of Administration that oversees buildings and grounds.
As part of the effort, his office is contacting veterans organizations, tribal groups and Pierre officials. The Legislature provided $3.5 million of funding, including $3 million from federal coronavirus aid. “There’s a lot of work that has to be done,” he said.
The plan includes dredging Capitol Lake and its feeder stream, as well as closing the well that for decades provided warm water and natural gas to the Flaming Fountain that’s part of the complex. The fountain no longer is lit because the gas supply has become inconsistent.
“The question is, how much can we get done for the money available? We’re not there yet,” Bollinger said.
There could be changes to Capitol Lake Visitor Center, which isn’t staffed except when a meeting is held. “We call it a visitor center. It’s a meeting place. It’s really not a visitor center,” he said.
Another decision is a location for the code-talker memorial, according to Bollinger.
The commission at its January 2016 meeting approved the concept of a code-talker memorial that the state Department of Tribal Affairs wanted to place south of the visitor center. Funding didn’t come through. A Senate committee decided against providing funding this year.
Bollinger said that a timeline for the overall project will be provided to the public, so that people can better schedule their visits to the memorials around the work.
Jeanne Goodman said the state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources will provide technical support on the water issues of the plan. She is the department’s deputy secretary.
Capitol Creek is the natural source of water for the lake. The creek starts in the hills north of the Capitol, flows through Mickelson Pond and Hilger’s Gulch, then runs from the lake to the Missouri River. Without the Flaming Fountain well, Capitol Lake could freeze completely in the winter, she said.
Goodman said the well should be plugged before it causes damage to anything above ground. “That well is a liability to the state of South Dakota,” she said. She added, “The water quality of that well is not very good, contributing to water quality problems in the lake.”
A project to replace the wooden retaining wall and gravel path around Capitol Lake with a stepped entrance, stone wall, ornamental fence and concrete sidewalk is nearly complete.