Progress Made on Comfort Station

CampgroundComfortStation2018Construction is finally under way on the new comfort station at Rickeman Field.

“We have that comfort station finally under way, three years and three attempts later.  We’ve got the walls up.  They look good,” mentioned City Administrator Justin Weiland during the Dell Rapids City Council meeting on Monday, September 17th.

The original plan had an October 15th deadline for the completion of the facility, but the contractor has expressed concern about meeting that deadline.  City administration has acknowledged that concern and has expressed a willingness to work with them on the deadline.

The campground updates are still planned to be completed this year.  The city has been in contact with Prunty Construction for the installation of water and sewer lines.  The city has been told that will start to happen within the next couple of weeks.  After the water and sewer lines are installed, the electrical work will take place.

During the construction time, alternative parking on Zero Street and over at Volunteer Park will have to be utilized during games held at Rickeman Field.

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Rickeman Field Comfort Station Halted for Now

RickemanComfortStationUpdateThe Dell Rapids City Council voted to table a decision on the new comfort station during their regular meeting on Monday, July 17th.  The comfort station was planned to be built at Rickeman Field sometime this year.  The city had put the project out for bid and had received bids for the project, however, the bids came back higher than expected.

The city had budgeted $240,000 for a combined project of adding a new comfort station and expanding the campground.  The city has received a $75,000 grant from the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks department to offset some of the costs.  The rest of the budgeted amount would be covered by city funds.  Last year the city received bids of around $99,000 on a design that was not done by a structural engineer.  The council at that time felt the costs were too high and moved the project to 2017.  Over the winter the city had a structural engineer help design a building for the new comfort station to make sure the building could withstand high winds so it could be used as a safety shelter for campers.  The bids for the new design received by the city were double the bids received last year.

“I would like to table the whole thing because I don’t like it at all.  We’re going to burn $240,000 on this thing.  We already spent $12,000 on engineering this thing.  I haven’t been up there, but I’ve just heard that Flandreau recently built something in their park.  I’d like to know where.  I’d like to know if that’s subject to getting hit by a flood sometime, and I understand it was a pretty reasonable deal.  I understand Baltic has just had plans drawn.  I don’t know if they’re building it.  Their plans cost them about $300.  They’re going to be building something out by their ballparks.  I have a real problem with $250,000 tied up in a set of restrooms.  I don’t know how we got to this point.  I do remember saying no to the $12,000 worth of plans.  My opinion, I’m not in favor of it.  I think we should start over and find out what Flandreau and Baltic have done and take a look at other options.  I think it’s ridiculous to spend that much money,” said Councilman Mark Crisp.

If the council had awarded one of the bids, the cost of the project plus the utility expansion to the building would take most of the $240,000 budget and would not leave much money for the campground expansion.

“I think it’s more important to get our campground in,” added Crisp.

“These new campers have showers and bathrooms,” Councilman Gary Haak said.  “What I’m saying is that everybody that comes camping in Dell Rapids knows there are no showers.  They will have to use their own shower.”

Plans are still in place to add a couple of dump stations to the campground expansion piece of the project along with more camping spots.  The plans also include having water and electric hookups at the new camping spots.

Weiland also mentioned to the council that one stipulation of the grant from the SD Game, Fish, and Parks is the project includes showers.  He said that he’d have to talk to them if they removed the shower portion of the project.

“I think we can do this for a lot cheaper than $200,000,” Haak said.

Haak made a motion to table any decisions on the project until the August 7th meeting.  The motion was seconded by Councilman Bob Mier.  The motion was approved unanimously.

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Dell Rapids Campground Reservation Changes

dellrapidscampgroundReservations for the Dell Rapids campground will be handled in a new way starting in 2017.  The Dell Rapids City Council approved the booking of campsites through an online service called Camp Native.  This is a South Dakota based company.  They currently serve reservations for about 12,000 campgrounds on their website.  The website to register is

City Administrator Justin Weiland said, “We’ve been thinking about this for several years and have done quite a bit of research…what the best method of doing this, what other campgrounds do.  We do get this request about making it more convenient.”

Sites can still be reserved between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at City Hall for those who may not have online access in which city administration can log onto the website and make the reservation through the website.  One big change will be the removal of the self-registration by placing a payment in the campground’s dropbox.  For those that enter the campground outside of city hours and don’t preregister either online or through City Hall, they will need to register online instead of using the dropbox.  The city is planning to have free Wi-Fi available at the campground by the time it opens for the season to offset this change.

It was reported during the meeting that the majority of the weekends are usually filled by preregistrations in advance of the weekend, especially the big camping weekends.  Moving to the website will allow people to now see what’s available real-time for open camping spots rather than having to contact City Hall.

The nightly rate for the campground was also raised from $15.00 to $18.00 by the City Council.  The cancellation policy of No Cancellations was also amended during the meeting.  That policy was removed and replaced with Camp Native’s cancellation policy that allows for any cancellations up to two weeks prior to the stay and a one-night penalty within the two week period.  All the cancellations will be handled by the Camp Native website.

Other changes happening to the Dell Rapids Campground in 2017 are plans to construct a comfort station/bath house near Rickeman Field and also expand the campground to the former tractor pull area.

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