OUR VIEW: Mitchell should have state parkFour years ago, The Daily Republic published a news story announcing that among the state’s 10 largest cities, Mitchell is the farthest from any state park or state recreation area. Mitchell’s nearest such state facility is Lake Vermillion Recreation Area, about 45 miles to the east.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Four years ago, The Daily Republic published a news story announcing that among the state’s 10 largest cities, Mitchell is the farthest from any state park or state recreation area. Mitchell’s nearest such state facility is Lake Vermillion Recreation Area, about 45 miles to the east.
At the time of that story, these were the other distances we reported between cities and state parks or recreation areas: Huron, 43 miles from Lake Thompson Recreation Area; Rapid City, 31 miles from Custer State Park; Brookings, 19 miles from Oakwood Lakes State Park; Aberdeen, 11 miles from Richmond Lake Recreation Area; Sioux Falls, nine miles from Big Sioux Recreation Area; Watertown, seven miles from Sandy Shore Recreation Area; Vermillion, five miles from Spirit Mound Historic Prairie; Yankton, four miles from Lewis and Clark Recreation Area; and Pierre, which is right next door to LaFramboise Island Nature Area.
Given Mitchell’s strategic location and the hundreds of thousands of tourists who stop here to see the Corn Palace every summer, we’ve always thought it foolish that there is no nearby state park to coax some of those visitors into staying overnight.
Additionally, there’s a fairness issue at stake. Why should residents of some other major South Dakota cities have multiple state parks within 20 or 30 miles of their doorstep, while Mitchell doesn’t even have one?
Alas, nobody seemed to care as much as we did. Our story on the issue didn’t seem to spark much interest or outrage, and we’ve heard little about the issue since then.
That’s why we were thrilled to hear Wednesday that the possibility of developing a state park at or near Mitchell was seriously discussed with the governor and other top state officials during Capital for a Day festivities. Apparently, there are some people out there who share our thoughts on this issue after all, including several on the Lake Mitchell Advisory Committee.
This region has plenty of natural beauty to offer, and we’re confident a fitting site could be found for a state park. Lake Mitchell appears to be the early candidate, and we are interested to know how or where a park might be developed on a lake that already features so much residential development.
Whatever happens, we commend the local leaders who pressed the issue Wednesday while they had the governor’s ear.