One of the biggest stories this year in Sioux Falls has been the drowning of a five-year-old girl at Falls Park exactly three months ago this Monday, on March 18. Since the tragedy, people have wondered and asked what can be done to make the city’s namesake safer. We’re now learning about recommended changes to Falls Park.
Several city departments took part in a “Falls Park Loss Control Special Review,” from the parks director to police, fire rescue, and emergency manger. They were all part of a review that looked at the March drowning and what could be done to reduce the risk of something like it from happening again. On Monday at City Hall we learned about the latest recommendations.
TJ Nelson, deputy chief of staff to Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, says the review happened because of the March 18 drowning. The report makes different recommendations, as well as suggesting a “third-party risk assessment,” taking out a low head dam, and implementing different technologies. But the biggest recommendations are building a viewing area at the lower falls with platforms and more signs.
“We feel that the viewing platform is the best, and the signage is the best starting point, and that will dramatically enhance the safety and accessibility. The technology, lowerhead dam, the assessment, those are really conversation starters for the council, to say, here’s some suggestions,” Nelson said.
The viewing area would cost just under $300,000, according to one estimate released by the city.
“We know people love to go to this area to take pictures, to really experience the falls up close and personal, and what this allows us to do is just to make sure that they’re doing it in a safe manner,” city director of parks and recreation, Don Kearney said.
“It definitely will make that area where that foam builds up safer. You’ve got a clear barrier there, you’ve got a clear space for people to be and be safe, so it just reduces that risk for us, which reduces our need to be there,” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Brad Goodroad said.
The report will be presented at the city council informational meeting on Tuesday.
City Releases Report With Recommendations For Falls Park Safety