The Sturgis Aquatics Committee was formed in 2020 in response to the community's requests for a splash pad addition at the Community Center. Once the committee began considering options, it soon became apparent that the splash pad would only be suitable for only a small population segment. An outdoor pool was also considered; however, a similar type of facility already existed in the Community Center. The Committee then began looking at other communities around the nation and learned that man-made outdoor recreational areas are becoming popular destination areas.
In the spring of 2021, after working with an aquatics park developer/operator, the Aquatics Committee formulated an idea for a man-made aquatic park at the Sturgis Fairgrounds property. After presenting the idea to the City Council, the Committee hosted several informal town-hall-style meetings to gain input from the public and explain what the lake concept would encompass. View the presentation. The City Council reviewed the presentation and continued to take additional public input. Upon receiving a recommendation from the Aquatics Committee, the Council proceeded with purchasing 77 acres of land east of Scott Peterson Motors on Junction Avenue. The City is working with two developers on a final development plan that would include space for the Aquatic Adventure Park.
The 77-acre parcel is large enough for a 4-acre water feature and other amenities such as a small splash park, picnic area, concession stand, restrooms, paddle boarding, miniature golf, and open space for future growth. A walking/biking path would be constructed around the perimeter of the park. After completion, the aquatic feature will contain water park structures, a zero-entry swim beach, and open water for kayaks and tubing. This type of development is unlike any other recreational area in the Black Hills and would serve as a visitor destination. In addition, private developers would construct residential and commercial space to adjoin the park.
The City had set aside $200,000 for the construction of a splash pad. Additional funds could be raised by using a portion of the property for new residential homes. If homes are built, a TIF would be created to pay for many of the improvements. The City Council is investigating several different operational financing options. One option is to establish a park entrance fee. Other options would be to charge for some of the uses but allow for free entry in to the park. A major fundraising effort by the Aquatics Committee would also be needed. More information about the expected revenues and expenses will be included in a report to Council in late summer 2022. The income generated from the park will offset the operational expenses, requiring no additional property taxes.
In June 2021, the Sturgis City Council approved a contract with Fennell Design Inc., to develop three preliminary plans for the park. The consultant presented these plans to the public in winter 2022. The plans included possible layouts for the park, anticipated operational costs, and a potential budget. The public had time to provide input and the consultant fine-tuned the plans. The consultant presented several options to the City Council.
On January 10 2022, the Sturgis City Council held a special meeting along with the Sturgis Aquatics Committee to discuss the most current information regarding the proposed Lakeside Park.
At this meeting, the City Manager gave a presentation that included three potential site locations and financial estimates. January 10 2022 Council and Aquatic Committee Meeting.pdf
On March 21, 2022, the Sturgis City Council unanimously agreed to purchase a 77-acre parcel of land located southeast of Exit 32 for $1.4 million.
The property is where the proposed aquatics park and recreation area could be located. In addition to a 3-acre waterfront, the park may include a splash park, a miniature golf course, hiking/biking paths, and picnic areas.
Purchasing this property is only one step in the aquatics park proposal. If final approval is given for the park, a portion of the property would also be used for commercial development and residential units. A TIF on the residential and commercial development would be put in place to provide funding for the park.
The City has generated a 'request for proposal' to construct the private residential and commercial developments. The City is currently working with two finalists and anticipates choosing one in late summer 2022. After which, the Council will accept additional public input and a final decision will be made.
View the March 21 Council Report and related documents here.