Palisades State Park Could See A $5 Million Investment


Some big improvements might be coming at Palisades State Park near Sioux Falls.

It just took a little longer than some expected.

The South Dakota Senate agreed on its second try Tuesday to provide $500,000 of start-up money that Governor Kristi Noem requested for a major expansion.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful place,” Senate Republican leader Kris Langer, who lives nearby at Dell Rapids, said.

The state Game, Fish and Parks Commission recently accepted two large donations of land that more than double the 157 acres. GFP plans to add 70 camp sites during the next five years to the current 34.

SB 178 needed a two-thirds majority of 24 because it was a spending bill for a specific project. It failed on a 19-13 vote the first time, but after a break, came through on the second time 25-7.

Langer had to do some talking though.

“This is a 10 to one math. We’re getting good bang for our buck here,” she said.

Senator Jeff Partridge, a Rapid City Republican, had amended the governor’s request down to $400,000. On the first round Tuesday, he voted against reinstating the amount at $500,000. When his turn came the second time, he passed, then sounded less than enthusiastic when after a few seconds he finally said yes.

Senator Brock Greenfield, a Clark Republican, said he — Greenfield — learned some lessons in the process of negotiating about communicating information in a timely way.

“What happens in these waning hours of session? Politics happen,” Greenfield said. He didn’t name names but noted, “The message was received, loudly and clearly.”

The debate suddenly edged toward verbal combat. Senator Stace Nelson, a Fulton Republican, asked the real cost of passing the bill when side-promises were later delivered. He said he witnessed “some wheeling and dealing”  to gather more support.

Senator John Wiik, a Big Stone City Republican who’s the Senate budget chairman, answered that vote trading was against the rules and against the law. Wiik said he had asked Nelson only if he — Nelson — needed more information about the park.

Nelson replied it was different conversation to which he was referring.

As Langer called point of order each time Nelson raised another point, Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden worked to get Nelson back in line. Rhoden said Nelson couldn’t speculate about other bills.

“There was no speculation,” Nelson responded. He added, “This still needs to die.”

Rhoden brought the gavel down with a bang.

Senator Deb Soholt, a Sioux Falls Republican, soothingly brought some peace back. “I think this is a really important bill,” she said.

Soholt lives near Good Earth State Park, which she described as “packed all the time” with visitors.

“That’s what Palisades State Park will do,” she said.

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