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A self-sustaining park seeks to add the finishing touches, telling the park’s story with interpretive signs

(Jeffrey Lindblom)
Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 1:41 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - In 2014 to celebrate 100 years of history in downtown Rapid City, Trinity Lutheran Church began the construction of Trinity Eco Prayer Park.

The park completed construction in 2016, but didn’t have the funding to get everything they wanted. They’re hoping to now with the help of the Rapid City Vision Fund.

“Now is a good time to kind of press forward and put those final touches on the park,” says the park’s Director, Ken Steinken. “The main thing that was left off is interpretive signage.”

Steinken says that oftentimes people look at the park and say it’s beautiful, but they’re missing the whole story behind it.

“The park is designed to be kind of a model of stewardship and sustainability. I guess I like to say,” says Steinken, “the park is more than a pretty place. We have over 16 different sustainability features here in the park that a person just wouldn’t be aware of without the signage necessarily.”

They’d like to implement a tour loop, or interpretive trail, that tells the story of the park. Steinken includes, “There’s three basic elements of the sustainability that we deal with here,” and the first is storm water management.

“The park is actually a storm water detention facility disguised as a park,” says Steinken.

The park collects two-thirds of the water from the city block. He says that after a rain even the park transforms into a lake and then drains it.

Steinken visualizes the process by saying, “Somebody came out and was kayaking in the park, and then 24 hours later we had a picnic in the park.”

The second element is plant scaping, where Steinken says “we use plants in this park that are native to western South Dakota.”

There are five biomes scattered across the park: short and mid grass prairies, wetlands, rocky mountain draw and Black Hills habitats.

“The idea is by using these,” says Steinken, “we don’t have to fertilize and we don’t have to water.” Again, this is all about sustainability. Steinken goes on, “About 50-percent of the potable water that the City treats is used for sprinkler systems in the summer time.”

That’s half the City’s drinkable water used on landscaping.

“The final thing is solar generated electricity,” says Steinken. Where their Black Hills Energy Bill is 20-dollars a month, including an inherit 15-dollar service fee, because of “solar Panels all around [the park], [and] solar panels on the back of the shelter.”

The light’s are solar generated by day and motion activated by night, ensuring as much energy as possible is conserved

The park was built on a site of a failed development project and was a vacant lot.

The 100-year old church also used to be located where the park is. They’re asking the City for a $46,782 investment for interpretive signage telling the story of the park, the design process and the installation of camera surveillance.

“It’s not just sustainability. It’s history and social issues and things like that,” says Steinken.

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