Speaking of Michael Clark’s strange assertion that regular South Dakotans don’t want anything from government, KSOO’s Rick Knobe provides an excellent example of how South Dakotans can work together through government to create a really cool public good. Knobe celebrates the 40th anniversary of the development of Falls Park and the Big Sioux River Greenway. Begun under Knobe’s mayoral watch in 1975, Knobe says this massive park development project reclaimed the rusty, grimy river loop from haphazard private development and turned it into the city’s star attraction:
The Big Sioux River Greenway and Falls Park provide us with places to recreate, contemplate, meditate, make friends, heal wounds, get married, have reunions, and learn about nature and life.
We experience cultural opportunities like Shakespeare in the Queen Bee Mill, music on the Riverfront in Downtown, and of course the giant Jazz Fest in Yankton Park.
Cultural and ethnic festivals, fund raising walks and runs, and marathons happen all the time.
Michelangelo’s statue of David adorns Fawick Park on the riverbank between 10th and 11th Streets.
There is the Outdoor Campus, Sertoma Park, the Butterfly and Marine House, to get closer to Mother Nature and learn.
Soccer and football fields, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, picnic tables and shelters abound. There are plenty of places to commune with your fellow man, and to be alone with your thoughts [Rick Knobe, “Our Biggest Liability Is Now Our Biggest Asset,” KSOO Radio, 2015.08.17].
Public goods like Falls Park and the Big Sioux River Greenway don’t just happen via market forces. They come from citizens working together through government to create an asset for everyone to support and share.
Knobe notes that he and former Sioux Falls commissioner Earl McCart dreamed of extending the river trail north to Lake Kampeska and south to the end of the Big Sioux at the Missouri River. That would require an even greater conversion of mostly industrial land (all those corn fields and dairies we pass are just food factories, right?) into a shared public good. But just as the conversion of the Sioux Falls river banks into public recreation area hasn’t seemed to hamper economic development in our biggest city, the conversion of the entire Big Sioux River into a 225-mile adventure trail (imagine it: Watertown, Castlewood, Bruce, Brookings, Flandreau, Dell Rapids, Sioux Falls, Canton, Hawarden, Akron, and Sioux City, all along the river instead of the highway) would be a boon for tourism, water quality, and property values in the I-29 corridor.