Chris Stover

Chris Stover

Friends of Rapid City Parks respectfully opposes the plan, as proposed, for Mayor Allender’s Military Appreciation Park within Memorial Park. In 1972, homes and businesses lined Rapid Creek. When the flood waters came, no mercy was shown to those homes, businesses and people.

The greenway is not only the flood-zone for Rapid Creek; it, too, is a memorial to all who lost their lives that night in June. The aftermath of that disaster led to tough, solid leadership decisions by Mayor Barnett and others. The result? Parks and undeveloped open space that we enjoy today.

Benefits of this open space are that it provides improved water and air quality, cooler summer temperatures downtown, room for the water to flow in the next flood, and a place for all people to enjoy the outdoors. Over the years, small and large intrusions have occurred within the flood-zone and flood-plain. Many of these are for the benefit and enjoyment of all; nonetheless, they are still intrusions.

The latest proposed development within the greenway is Mayor Allender’s Military Appreciation Park. The specifics of his proposal were made less than a week prior to the city council vote and allocation of Vision Funds. Other proposals went through a rigorous process that started months in advance.

The Council voted to approve and allocate $390,857 for the Mayor’s Military Appreciation Park within Memorial Park. Two immediate issues come to mind: The selected location is within the 100-year flood plain and the installation of a B-1B Lancer and “other military equipment”.

A B-1B Lancer is no small aircraft; it is 146 feet long with a minimum wingspan of 79 feet. It stands 34 feet tall. The plan, as explained, will mount the aircraft high enough to provide cover and shade for a three-tiered amphitheater that is also proposed.

June 9 and 10, 1972, marked a tragedy for Rapid City; 238 people lost their lives that night. Their names are displayed on a monument in Memorial Park for a reason — so we don’t forget. That terrible evening in June bore a high cost yet gave Rapid City an unexpected gift— a ribbon of green that threads through the community. The city parks, greenway, and ultimately, the open-space are a few of the many reasons Rapid City is a beautiful place to live.

Friends of Rapid City Parks is an organization dedicated to preserving Rapid City’s green space in honor of 238 people who died that June evening 47 years ago, as well as preserving the greenway flood-zone to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. We strive to ensure our community never forgets that immense loss. Friends of Rapid City Parks commends Mayor Allender for his commitment to parks improvement, specifically at Dinosaur Park (another Vision Fund project), and we support a park to honor members of our military.

However, we would encourage a more modest proposal. Aircraft, “other equipment”, and a three-tiered amphitheater are massive encroachments into Rapid City’s green space, parks and flood-plain. Before further action, we respectfully encourage Mayor Allender to seek public input and consider a far less intrusive way to pay tribute to our military and veterans in Memorial Park.

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Chris Stover is the President of Friends of Rapid City Parks

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