The Rapid City Council awarded Thursday night almost $24 million in vision funds to a slew of community projects over the next three years at a special meeting. In all, 14 community projects and three city-proposed projects received awards.
One of the largest and most noteworthy awards went to Rapid City Collective Impact’s proposed One Heart transformation campus, which received $3.9 million after a lengthy discussion that went past 10 p.m. The funds will go toward the acquisition of property along the 100 and 200 block of Kansas City Street, which will house a bevy of area social service providers that seek to assist Rapid City’s homeless, near-homeless and impoverished community. The project is expected to be open in around two years.
Of the $16.57 million in funding recommendations from the citizen-led Vision Fund Committee, the council went above that figure and awarded $17.49 million to 14 community projects. Only the Rapid City Area School District, which had been recommended for a $750,000 grant for construction of a playground at Pinedale Elementary School, was rejected.
Community projects with the largest awards include $3.99 million to Destination Rapid City for the installation of LED lighting in the downtown area, $2.3 million to Black Hills Sports Inc. to renovate Floyd Fitzgerald Stadium, $2 million to Elevate Rapid City to support its economic development initiative, $1.95 million to Youth and Family Services for the expansion of its campus at 120 East Adams St., and $1.1 million to YMCA for the remodeling of four floors of its facility at 625 9th St.
Smaller awards included $190,000 to the Abbott House for two, eight-bedroom therapeutic foster homes, $810,000 to Rapid City Club for Boys for remodeling and roof replacement at its 320 N. Fourth St. facility, $386,000 to the Rapid City Softball Association for construction of two new Americans with Disabilities-compliant (ADA) bathrooms, $450,000 to Black Hills Works for its new community center at 3603 Range Road, and $187,500 to Main Street Square to replace the subsurface of the ice rink and other areas.
Finally, $100,000 was granted to Harney Little League for fencing, dugouts and bleachers for two new fields, Rapid City BMX received $78,000 for bleachers and a sound system, and the Canyon Lake Activity Center was awarded $50,000 for the construction of six pickle ball courts and lighting to allow for nighttime matches.
On Thursday morning, Mayor Steve Allender made public a memo outlining three city proposed projects he hoped the council would also consider for funding.
The memo included requests for $1.6 million to make Dinosaur Park ADA-complaint, $390,857 to complete the first phase of a military appreciation park in the green space northwest of the intersection of Omaha Street and Mount Rushmore Road — which would include the cost to mount a B-1B Lancer Bomber and construct a circular, three-level bleacher area — and between $2.5 and $4.5 million to renovate and remodel City Hall.
The council awarded full funding to the Dinosaur Park and military appreciation park proposals, while deciding on $4.5 million for the remodeling of City Hall.
During Thursday's meeting, city finance director Pauline Sumption said the city had just over $24 million to allocate to community and city projects. A $1 million contingency fund would also be kept in case city sales tax collections — the Vision Fund was originally created in the 1970s when Rapid Citians approved a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center — came in lower than expected in 2019, 2020 or 2021. Sumption said the city had $10.9 million available in 2019, $6.4 million in 2020 and $6.6 million in 2021, based on city projections of future sales tax collections. Many of the largest awards will be split evenly over the three-year period.
The award to One Heart, which was $1.1 million less than what it had requested, may be revisited at a later date as the amount of city funding for the City Hall remodeling work becomes clearer, city spokesman Darrell Shoemaker said after the meeting.