LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — Neighbors near the proposed site of a new South Dakota men’s prison have a lot of concerns. The site is to the immediate west of the intersection of 477th Avenue and 278th Street in Lincoln County.
“I can’t imagine that anybody would be real excited to have a facility like that in their backyard,” said Reid Vander Veen, who farms land a short distance from the proposed site. “There’s just a lot of questions that I would say I have and a bunch of us have out here right now.”
Vander Veen’s mother-in-law Renee Olson farms in Lincoln County, too.
“Potentially a paved road running right by the farm and all of the traffic, having a huge prison, a huge facility just a mile and a half away or so is very concerning,” Olson said.
Neighbor Kyah Broders says the area’s growth would be negatively impacted if a prison goes in the area.
“My opposition is, some may see this as self-serving, but it’s most certainly not self-serving,” Broders said. “It’s looking at the broader picture of, there’s no infrastructure for this.”
Neighbor Sarah Ulmer wants everyone to ask themselves a question.
“Hearing this news completely blindsided us as well as neighbors all around,” Ulmer said. “I’d like to ask every mother, father, grandparent, how they would feel if this was sprung on them and a prison was being proposed to be built next to their home.”
“As a homeowner, I’m absolutely terrified,” area resident Mary Geraets said. “It’s really just my mom and I where we live on our acreage.”
Mary Geraets and her mother Cheri call the area home, too. Cheri points to the area’s agricultural heart.
“I said there were many other places they could have put this, but they decided this, and this is prime land,” Cheri said. “And as you see, my shirt says ‘No Farms, No Food.’ This is farmland.”
“There should be concern for anybody that’s on the south side of Sioux Falls, anybody in Lincoln County, anybody in Harrisburg, Canton, Tea, Worthing, this is going to have an impact for a long, long time for those of us that live in Lincoln County,” Vander Veen said.
South Dakota Department of Corrections Secretary Kellie Wasko said in a statement that the location “is the best choice for a modern correctional facility that supports our state’s public safety needs, minimizes the impact on community growth, and keeps us close to available workforce.”
KELOLAND News reached out on Monday to the DOC and requested an interview with Wasko or another official on why this specific site was chosen over others, but as of 6:00 Central time had not heard back. The state is already the selected land’s owner, and a news release from the state about the site says the choice is fiscally responsible.