Councilors, Mayor At Odds Over SF Ice and Recreation Building

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether and city council members are at odds about what to do with a piece of city property on the south east side of town.

It’s the old Sioux Falls Ice and Recreation building.

These days it’s just used for storage.

Most of the council members believe a non-profit right next store would benefit from using the space, but the Mayor of Sioux Falls says that wouldn’t be a smart deal.

“I don’t think it’s the government’s role to donate very valuable land to any non-profit,” says Mayor Mike Huether.

Huether says he does not support a resolution that city council members passed 7 to 0 last week.

The resolution intends to allow the Glory House, which is a non-profit organization that helps ex-convicts get back on their feet, to use the Sioux Falls Ice and Recreation Center.

“Why we would want to give away something between a half a million and a million dollars, dumbfounds me,” says the Mayor.

Huether says if they sell that property rather than give it to the Glory House, they could put that money toward the police or fire department, for example.

“There’s all kinds of wants all kinds of need that government is supposed to take care of.”

However, the Glory House Executive Director says this partnership will end up saving the city money, just in a different way.

They plan to turn the building into a low-income housing facility where people will be able to get the treatment they need to stay out of jail.

“If you spend a night in jail in our county is $92 dollars a day,” says Dave Johnson. “If you have 100 people that come through our system that are successful in staying out of jail, not being involved in police calls, that $92 a day becomes a very substantial figure in a year.”

Councilor Pat Starr is the main leader behind this resolution.

He says location is another reason as to why this partnership would be a good thing.

The two buildings are right next to each other.

“It’s basically the only place where the Glory House could expand,” says Starr. “It has access to transportation to jobs to counseling that continues, and it’s away from neighborhoods.”

But Mayor Huether says the council should have considered other private entities that may be interested in buying this land first.

“Let’s do our homework, let’s do some due diligence first.”

The Mayor also said the resolution came out of nowhere last week.

He says he hasn’t seen a plan from the city council or the Glory House as to what the facility will be used for.

But councilor Starr says it should not have been a surprise.

He says they were briefed about this possibility during an informational meeting.

Even though the councilors passed the resolution, they still need to figure out how much or how little the Glory House will pay for the property.

That won’t happen until the property is appraised.

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