April 06, 2006


The juxtaposition of young native american dancers performing with a backdrop of schoolchildren climbing a 50 foot wall was the spectacle that unfolded a couple of weeks ago at the Long Lines Family Center.

It seems that the annual Siouxland Multicultural Fair moved from it's normal venue at the Convention Center to the old Aud because the room rent was half of what the Convention Center charged. So here we have the CCAT competing against itself. Not very smart business.

The CCAT and the Convention Center, favorite whipping boy of just about anyone who wants to complain about waste in city government. Just ask Brent Hoffman(n).

But maybe in this case we have one city-owned venue too many. When the CC was built, during an orgy of convention center building that unfolded in cities large and small, it was touted as a much needed site that would attract activities large and small but would not compete with hotel and other private facilities. No, weddings or partys would not be solicited. Sioux City needed this facility to compete.

Now, the area home of dart tournaments and flea markets, is being undercut by other city owned venues and it continues to be a drain on the CCAT budget. Maybe it's time to think outside the box.

How about this idea: Give the facility to the Clarion Hotel with the understanding that they would build an indoor water park. Have you ever been to the Ramada in Sioux Falls with the waterpark. Talk about tourism. Ask anyone you know with kids under 12 and the chances are good that they have spent a "relaxing" winter weekend poolside there or at the Ramkota. It's one of the few things that Sioux Falls does better than Sioux City.

Maybe something like this will allow the Clarion to make a go of it (God knows their recent "renovations" aren't going to cut the mustard) and return a property to the tax rolls.

With the CC gone, the CCAT could focus on marketing the commercially viable venues, the Tyson Center and the Orpheum, and let the area hotels do what they do best, catering to weddings, parties, and small business gatherings which is about all this marketplace can support.

Plus, you can never go wrong with a waterslide or a big wave pool. Especially if you can get a Pina Colada at poolside.

The Gospel Truth

I've got to admit that my own prejuidices were on display in my last post regarding the Gospel Mission. The assumption I made was that the client base of the Mission is entirely made up of homeless men riding Schwinn's with plastic bags full of empty pop cans. After all, when you drive down 8th St. that's what you see. However, as a quick scan of their web site will show, their client base and function is way bigger than a flop house for the homeless.

Hungry children, shattered families, and battered women are just a few of the many other constituencies that they serve. And my guess (although I have no data to back this up right now) is that those groups are going to be found in greater numbers in the west side than in the Country Club district. Locating this facility close to its main client base is probably pretty important in choosing a good location for it.

I'm still not sure about the wisdom of changing the street pattern in the neighborhood, but a good facility for an important social service provider is a good idea regardless.

April 05, 2006

NIMBY or what?

Now here is a thought provoking concept found in the letters to the editor today:

SIOUX CITY -- A friend suggested a possible site for the Gospel Mission. He said it should be perfect as it is large, has a cafeteria/kitchen, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, and lots of grounds surrounding it. Not to mention compassionate, civic-minded neighbors. The old Hoover Junior at Hamilton and Country Club boulevards. -- Larry Johns

Lets see them argue this one out. All of the reasons for putting the Gospel Mission in the old HyVee sound pretty valid but then so does this one. One argument against the Hoover site might go like this "well, the client base for the Mission isn't from this neighborhood." But this begs the question that is the client base from the west side neighborhood of the current Mission? Isn't the client base of the Mission by definition homeless? Couldn't they just as easily hang out around the northside location of Hoover? Soon there will be a great bike trail along Perry Creek that they could ride their old drop handle Schwinn Varsitys on. Or does this concept expose this as a case of NIMBY?

Could it be that the planners of this proposed development have had their prejuidices exposed? "The westside is pretty far down the property tax scale and the clients of the gospel mission are pretty far down the socio-economic scale so they should go together just fine."

Or how about this concept: leave the mission where it is and bag the concept of a "Wesley Way connector". What's wrong with W. 8th Street anyway? No stop lights between W. 7th and Hamiliton, nice and wide, and tree lined already. A top coat of asphalt and that street is good to go for years. Oh, thats right, the city wants to redevelop that "corridor" into big box stores and strip malls a la Singing Hills Blvd. A build it and they will come kind of deal. Might be a good idea, and what the hell, the Feds are going to pay for a big chunk of it all so lets go ahead and tear down a bunch of occupied structures to build a parkway. Maybe they can get the same guy who built the guard wall on the completed section of the parkway to finish off the new end. Whoever it was did such a beautiful job there.

April 04, 2006

Bummer For Us All

Gateway falls from Fortune 500 list. Maybe they should never have left...??

Oh well, we've always got IBP, I mean Tyson, oh thats right, they're in Springdale.

But you know, even with the Fortune 500 exodus, this town is still kind of rockin'.
Unemployment is relativly low, city's credit rating solid, major public improvements have been made including most recently the kick ass climbing wall.

And in terms of retail, have you been by Lakeport Commons. Parking lot gridlock. And while you are waiting, take a look at where all the cars are from, almost hard to spot a Woodbury County plate.

Yet it still kind of sucks about Gateway.

April 03, 2006

Is this heaven?

As others have noted, so often that it is scary, Sioux Cityans are about to have their fondest wish granted; an Olive Garden is about to open. Our culinary dream come true.

Apparently however, folks in the big town (NYC) seem to feel that our dining experience isn't degraded by a dearth of places to go but by a lack of service. http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/03/29/dining/29feed.html

The money quote:

"All New Yorkers hold restaurant grudges. When something goes really wrong, you say, "Hold it! Do I live in Sioux City or New York City? There are too many other places that seat me on time or actually serve the entree within an hour of the appetizer or where the noise isn't deafening. Forget this place.""

This seems to me to be the perfect example of what is wrong with journalism. A journalist , in an attempt to use a pithy literary device, uses Sioux City as an example of the polar oposite of New York City (I guess it's that they are both citys) to make her point about bad service.

Now if she was commenting on the cuisine: the quality of the food, the range of choice in styles, the overall spectrum of what makes a town a great place for eating out, she would have had a valid counter-point. However, by limiting it to a comparison of service, she is showing her uninformed prejuidice.

Gernerally speaking Sioux City's diners do get decent service. It may not be as polished as Le Bernadin or Masa, but skill in taking an order and delivering plates to the table is not always about being able to say mango foam without giggling.

This isn't to say that you can't get terrible service in Sioux City, you truly, astoundingly can. I've waited an hour for a California Roll in an empty sushi joint here.

But to imply that service is bad just 'cause this is the sticks demonstrates a massive arrogance. Bash on us for what IS substandard (and there is plenty). However, you might want to check your assumptions before you presume to comment in a journal that aspires to be the nations "paper of record". It kind of leads to an assumption of that ya'll are guilty of arrogant elitism by us cow town hicks out here in the heartland.

School Daze

Is it just me, or does it seems like the Sioux City Community School District can't go a whole week without having a day off or an early out?

And now they want to make it official; every Monday school will be dismissed an hour early for "teacher in-service". I realize that there is a pretty complex issue here, invovling teacher pay, continuing education, etc, etc, etc, but there is also the issue that you can't teach a kid who isn't in the classroom.