Debate over Van Eps Park goes to Sioux Falls City Council
Van Eps Park has become a hot button issue for Sioux Falls.
We first told you about the drinking complaints in the downtown park back in June -- and if you look at police calls -- that seems to be when everything started.
From June 1st until today -- just 65 days -- there have been 158 phone calls to police about an issue in Van Eps Park.
The number of calls in 2013?
Five -- for the entire year.
Police weren't the only ones taking notice.
County and City administrators took action.
The county -- building a fence to increase security for administration employees.
The city -- proposing a ban on alcohol in the park.
And tonight, the Sioux Falls City Council addressed Councilor Greg Jamison's proposal -- which aims to speed up the process of city council -- and all of the problems in Van Eps Park.
The delay of not being able to do anything about the drinking in Van Eps Park is the reason Councilor Jamison came up with his proposal.
He says this is not about the park - but about public safety.
The Council agrees the drinking at the park is a problem, but not everyone agrees this is the way to handle it because it does take away from the work the Parks Board has done.
Police Chief Doug Barthel says the calls to police have not increased all over Sioux Falls, just to Van Eps Park.
And he knows people wont stop drinking all together if alcohol is banned, but he hopes it moves elsewhere.
"I do know that a number of them -- about half -- do have a residence. They're not all homeless. Our hope is that they'll go to their homes or their apartments -- where ever they live and they'll do some of that drinking somewhere other than the park," says Chief Barthel.
The City is looking at making drinking at Van Eps and Tower Parks illegal but because of current laws, that wont happen until October, after the Parks Board discusses it and makes recommendations to the Council.
Next Tuesday the City Council will vote on passing Jamison's proposal.