Among unrealized goals: Kids' theme park, state-park development near citySome of the ideas pitched by Vision 2000 in the early 1990s led to well-known, successful projects. Among those are the city’s outdoor aquatic center, the Missouri River drinking-water pipeline and the consolidation of two competing hospitals.
By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic
Some of the ideas pitched by Vision 2000 in the early 1990s led to well-known, successful projects.
Among those are the city’s outdoor aquatic center, the Missouri River drinking-water pipeline and the consolidation of two competing hospitals.
Other ideas never turned into successful projects. Some of those unrealized dreams are long-forgotten today, while others linger and are still discussed by residents of the city.
Following are summaries of some of the Vision 2000 ideas that have never been realized. Quotations are taken from a 1991 Vision 2000 report that has been on file since then at The Daily Republic.
— Seth Tupper
* Sport Fishing Hall of Fame: Vision 2000’s Tourism Development Committee thought that “the development of a national Sport Fishing Hall of Fame located at Lake Mitchell could draw from a different cliental than our existing tourism market.”
The committee estimated the cost to develop such a project to be $2 million.
Committee members reasoned that fishing is “the largest participatory sport in the U.S. enjoyed by male, female, young or old alike. Annual sales of boats and fishing tackle and supplies are in the billions of dollars. The project would have wide appeal with family orientation.”
Beyond the hall of fame, the committee thought the project could be expanded to include a state fish hatchery and an institute for the study of fisheries and water pollution.
* Children’s Theme Park: The Tourism Development Committee thought that a children’s theme park in Mitchell similar to Storybook Island in Rapid City “could be enjoyed by tourists and area residents.”
The committee estimated the cost of developing a theme park to be $2.1 million.
“The addition of a park would encourage, along with all the other attractions, to make Mitchell a destination point,” said the committee report.
* Multipurpose convention/athletic facility: The effort to build an athletic facility larger than the Corn Palace is still continuing 18 years after it was suggested by the Tourism Development Committee of Vision 2000. The convention aspect of the committee’s proposal was finally accomplished in 2007 when the city partnered with two local entrepreneurs to construct the Highland Conference Center in southern Mitchell.
* State park development: “The development of a state park with the James River and Lake Mitchell as focal points needs to be pursued with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks,” read a report from Vision 2000’s Tourism Development Committee.
The committee foresaw a park with walking, jogging, hiking and biking trails that would link the city with the state park at the river or lake. In addition, the committee said, camping and fishing could be developed and enhanced.
The committee estimated that the effort would cost $2 million, but would “increase the number of visitors to the Mitchell area. Mitchell could become a weekend destination point for visitors. The quality of life in the Mitchell area is also improved by this project.”
The idea never caught on, and a 2007 news story in The Daily Republic noted that Mitchell remained the farthest from a state park of any of the state’s 10 largest cities.
* Relocation of City Hall, conversion of City Hall building to a museum: Vision 2000’s Corn Palace Area Development Committee proposed relocating City Hall and converting the existing City Hall into a “Corn Palace Museum. The cost was estimated at $2.5 million to relocate City Hall and another $2.5 million to develop the museum.
Today, City Hall remains in the same building on the north side of the Corn Palace.
* Relocation of the Friends of the Middle Border Museum to the Corn Palace area: “By locating the Friends of the Middle Border Museum in the Corn Palace area, the traveling public would have more to do in the Corn Palace area and (would be) encourage(d) to stay longer,” wrote the Corn Palace Area Development Committee.
The Friends of the Middle Border Museum has since relocated to a new building on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus in south Mitchell. The museum also changed its name to Dakota Discovery Museum.
* Location of a convention center/hotel complex in the Corn Palace area: There still is no hotel in the Corn Palace area and, as stated above, a convention center — the Highland Conference Center — has since been built in southern Mitchell.
* Build a new, combined Public Safety Building on the old Whittier Elementary site: This idea, from Vision 2000’s Public Service Committee, was achieved in modified form. Instead of building one, combined public safety facility on the Whittier Elementary site, the city expanded and renovated its fire hall to serve as its own Public Safety Building, and the county renovated a portion of the old Methodist hospital to serve as its Public Safety Center. Prior to those moves, the police department was at City Hall and the sheriff’s office was in the courthouse.
At the time, the committee said the building of a combined facility would “be very conducive to further merging of services if at all possible and streamline information flow for many years to come.”
* Regionalization of county services: “The time has come for this futuristic idea of our area, including Davison, Hanson, Hutchinson, Aurora and Sanborn counties,” read the Public Service Committee’s 1991 draft report. “No longer can we, the smallest counties in the state of South Dakota, continue to support five sheriff’s departments, five county highway departments, five court systems, numerous landfills, etc.”
All but one of those systems remains virtually unchanged today. The change came in the area of landfills, when Mitchell opened a regional landfill in 2005. The facility serves the counties of Davison, Hanson and Hutchinson and also serves some small towns in other counties.
Vision 2000’s Public Service Committee also proposed reducing the number of highway shops in the five-county area to “three outlying shops or two. One possible scenario would be county shops in Plankinton, Alexandria, and either Parkston or Woonsocket.”
* Decorating the second stories of downtown buildings with corn murals: The Retail Development Committee of Vision 2000 thought this idea would “tie the Mitchell downtown into the Corn Palace and keep visitors moving up and down Main Street.”
* Extension of Dry Run Creek trail: The Youth Projects and Programs Committee of Vision 2000 noted that the Dry Run Creek bicycle trail from Minnesota Street to Burr Street “provides the city with an excellent setting for biking or jogging. This path should be expanded east to Foster Street and west to Ohlman Street.”
The path still terminates at Minnesota and Burr.