Mayor’s Monthly Column: Investing in Public Safety, Building our City’s Future
We are fortunate to live in a community with an extensive list of accolades, from our low unemployment rate to Sioux Falls’ excellent cultural and recreational amenities that enhance our quality of life. Sioux Falls is also poised for growth in many areas, including our population. Currently, the estimated population is hovering right over 190,000. City planners project the population to rise to 208,000 by 2025. As a City, we need to stay proactive to plan for growth in order to continue delivering quality services to the community.
We’re doing that through the priorities I have outlined in my administration’s proposed 2021 budget, including continued investments in major infrastructure projects. Another critical focus of the 2021 budget is Public Safety and Health, a primary tenet of the One Sioux Falls framework that I established in 2018 to help guide policies and spending that the community has made clear they want to see.
Providing a safe community is continually one of the top priorities of our residents. To ensure we remain a safe community, our City’s public safety personnel must have the tools and resources they need to continue providing the highest levels of public safety services to our community. We have the opportunity to do that — and more — by making a long-term investment in both our public safety team and our residents through the proposed Community Bond 2020.
If approved by our City Council, this bond will be invested in the new Public Safety Training Facility, which will provide a state-of-the-art training environment for the Sioux Falls Police Department and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue team for decades to come. This facility will allow us to provide training for our public safety personnel at a much higher level than we are able to today in our current environment. Bolstering their training will provide benefits both today and for our community going forward. This campus also includes space for a new Metro 911 center that will enhance our ability to maintain emergency communications in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County, while allowing our current center to soon become a back-up center. We have outgrown the current facility, built in 1974, due to the size of operations. Metro Communications answer more than 328,000 calls annually.
As a community, we have discussed the City’s investment in the Public Safety Training Facility for many years, and for good reason, considering the importance of public safety and the outdated environment our first responders currently train in. It’s clear that this project is long overdue. It’s not only the right time to invest in the training for our public safety professionals but also a good time from a financial perspective, as we are in a competitive bidding environment.
The time is right to invest in the safety of our community. Learn more about Community Bond 2020 (https://youtu.be/bUgbP0oNxLw)
Download a fly-through animation of the design for the proposed public safety training center facility.
Credit: Courtesy of Abercrombie Planning + Design and Ascension Studios in conjunction with WSKF Architects