Petition to allow city ability to sell eight public lots along Lake Mitchell filed

Mayor Bob Everson said revenue made from the sale of the lots, if voters approve the ballot measure in June, would be used to fund future Lake Mitchell clean up efforts.

One of the eight lots along the north side of Lake Mitchell that the city is seeking to sell.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Situated along Lake Mitchell are eight public lots that the city is hoping to sell to help fund future lake restoration projects.

For that to happen, a petition with at least 462 signatures had to be submitted to the city by 5 p.m. Tuesday. City officials confirmed the petition was filed Tuesday before 5 p.m., which will put an initiated measure on the June election ballot for voters to decide whether the city can list the lots on the market. Over the past month, a group of Mitchell residents who support improving the lake and ridding its algae woes have set out to collect the signatures needed to submit the petition.

Justin Thiesse, a longtime Mitchell resident who resides on the lake, is among the group of residents knocking on doors to gain signatures for the petition.

“The lake is our biggest asset. I want to do anything I can to help the city get closer to cleaning up the lake,” Thiesse said.

The petition was also being circulated by the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Mayor Bob Everson.


Everson says he is circulating the petition as a private citizen and not as an elected official.

“What we’ve done is looked at eight areas with lots where we could infill houses on city property. The goal would be to put these lots back on the tax rolls and capture the money from the sale and the city’s portion of property taxes to help pay for the lake clean up efforts,” Everson said.

The idea to sell city-owned lots around the lake recently emerged in 2022 during a public meeting where city officials pitched potential methods of funding an estimated $20 million lake dredging project. While the city council has yet to vote on approving a lake dredging project, a team of engineers is inching closer to completing a three-phase dredging design.

Four of the lots are located along the shores of the south side of the lake near North Ohlman Street, while the other four are situated on the north side of the lake by North Harmon Drive.

Majority of the eight lots are about 50 feet wide and have an abundance of trees. Most of the lots are also located in between existing homes.

“A lot of them are full of trees and don’t get used a lot. I spent last summer looking at the usage of the lots. These are platted lots,” Everson said.

One of the eight lots on the south side of Lake Mitchell that the city is seeking to sell.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

In 2014, the public voted on a similar measure that failed, which resulted in city-owned land around the lake being classified as parkland. Everson said that decision requires a public vote with a simple majority of approval for the city to sell any public lake land.

The city owns roughly 76% of the land along the lake, including the lake itself.


As for what the value of the lots are, Everson estimated they would all be at least six figures.

“People will currently buy a small house for $200,000 to $250,000 to build a house. These lots would be in the six figures, I expect,” Everson said.

If the ballot measure is approved by voters in June, city officials would sort out how to list the lots on the market.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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