It’ll be a while before skiers hit the slopes, but city budget constraints are putting a long-coming project at Great Bear Recreation Park in a rough spot. The general manager of the Sioux Falls ski slope has been waiting to replace his chairlift. Great Bear installed it almost 40 years ago in the early ’80s. The project was set to cost about $1.7 million, and was budgeted as a capital improvement project. With a long list of update needs in the city, Great Bear’s general manager says the the project is now on hold.

If you’ve hit the slopes in the last four decades, you’ve probably ridden the chairlift.

“And it’s been due to be replaced. It’s been in the CIP budget for the city for probably the last four or five years,” Dan Grider said.

Great Bear was preparing to start the project soon.

“The mayor got ahold of us and said, we’ve got a lot of infrastructure concerns with the city, with the streets, and our sewers and all that,” Grider said.

That means the city cut the budget for the chairlift in half. Grider says the chairlift is perfectly safe, and there are no issues with safety.
Grider says newer lifts have more safety features.

“We’re pretty disappointed,” Grider said.

“We’re not canceling the project,” Don Kearney, Parks and Recreation Department director, said.

Kearney says the city is now looking at private donors to make up the difference and pay for the rest of a new chairlift.

“As of right now, we don’t have any leads on a sponsor for the chairlift, but we’re just getting started in that process and hope to work collaboratively with Great Bear and the City,” Kearney said.

Kearney hopes to start the project next summer. Grider says he has been working closely with the city, and hopes to see the improvements in the near future.

“I feel confident with the chairlift. Just kind of bummed that we’re not going to get a new one right away,” Grider said.