By Sara Deckard
A quick snip of the ribbon by Hot Springs Mayor George Kotti officially opened the new Boulder Falls development.
The formal ribbon cutting ceremony Dec. 12 was the culmination of a vision that began 10 years ago. Many of the 100 lots on the back nine of the city’s Southern Hills Golf Course have direct access to the course, complete with spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Design Engineer Tracy Bastian started work on the project in 2009, spending his summer setting the initial points for the development – roughly 2,600 points in all. Today, the $1.7 million paving project leads to lots that have city water and sewer to the lot line, as well as electric power and fiber optic communications ready to be used.
“I’ve been in this city for quite a while now, been through a lot of projects and I will absolutely, honestly say this was the smoothest project we’ve ever had,” Bastian said.
The project was not without obstacles, however. Property owners and city officials at one point disputed who would shoulder the bulk of the development project’s costs. Eventually, the two sides mutually came to an agreement to settle the ongoing lawsuit, requiring the individual property owners to pay for approximately 75 percent of the total cost, while the city paid the remaining 25 percent of the project costs.
Construction on the first portion of the project began in 2011. The 3.1 miles of streets leading to Boulder Falls were designed to be low-impact, reducing the overall cost of the project and the negative environmental impact.
By providing filter drainage of the roads throughout the majority of the project, the runoff water will benefit the adjacent land, which avoids costly storm water discharge systems that would normally be found in most urban developments. Further reducing costs was the city’s ability to have Bastian design and monitor construction, a 20 percent savings, said newly appointed City Administrator Kim Barbieri.
South Dakota’s USDA Rural Development Office helped finance the project through two low interest bonds.
“In the early 1880s, when Hot Springs was founded, your fore fathers had a vision, a vision for Hot Springs and that has traveled through the generations and you all have carried the torch,” Julie Gross, the State Program Director, said.
Kotti envisions that torch being carried into the future with the Boulder Falls development, saying it will potentially lead to additional development and attract more people to Hot Springs.
“I grew up in the Southern Hills, and my father taught me to fly fish. I learned a couple of secrets, one of them being to always fish upstream because as your waiting in the water, you’ll kick up dirt and scare the fish downstream,” Kotti said. “I think Boulder Falls and the Golf Course, quite frankly through this process of getting to where we are, had a lot of mud that was kicked up. I think at times we were fishing downstream. Things like lawsuits and so forth kind of hid the potential we have here in Hot Springs.”
Last week’s ribbon cutting was a celebration of hard work and dedication, he continued, leading out of that muddy water into a bright future.