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Fate unknown for diversity mosaic in downtown Sioux Falls

 SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Sioux Falls officials are determining the fate of a downtown mosaic celebrating diversity that's falling apart.

The Argus Leader reports the colorful 496-foot CommUnity Youth Mosaic is missing tiles and others are stained. It was built in the late 2000s out of a vision form schoolchildren, and it became property of the city, which agreed to maintain it.

Upkeep has been sparse. Mosaic creators believe vibrations from a nearby demolition in 2012 caused many tiles to loosen. Chemicals applied to the adjacent roadway splash up the mosaic and stain it.

The city thinks the land that the mosaic could be a target for redevelopment. Community development director Darrin Smith says they'll know in a matter of months whether it'll see development, or it could become a recreational site.

"We understand the wall is important to people. It's part of downtown," Smith said. "But if they can just be patient over the next few months, we're going to find out ... if there is serious interest in redeveloping that site. Or if it becomes a recreational site. Or if Phase Three of the River Greenway project goes there. We'll know all those things in a matter of months."

City planner Mike Cooper said the mosaic has been cleaned a number of times — by artist Porter Williams, and by employees of Syverson Tile, which had provided the tiles for the mosaic. But Cooper said the city has not been involved in maintaining the wall.

"Back in 2005, when we did the first phase, I don't know that anybody anticipated there would be long-term maintenance required of the mosaic," he said.

Dave Syverson of Syverson Tile said he has sent the city proposals for doing yearly maintenance on the mosaic. Ideally, it should be cleaned twice a year, he said, though certainly at least annually. He estimates the wall would need less than $2,500 per year for cleaning.

Smith said once they chart the future of the land the mosaic sits on, officials will be willing to sit down with community leaders to discuss the future of the wall.

"At the appropriate time, we can bring everyone to the table and and discuss what is going to happen," Smith said. "Does it stay? Does it not stay? If everyone can be at the table having that conversation, we can figure this out. It's just going to take a few months before we can have that conversation."

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