SIOUX CITY | A Sioux City campground once envisioned for a scenic spot along the Big Sioux River may now end up near the proposed Bomgaars Ag Expo Center and directly east of a small hog plant.
The new plans would be a refocusing of the initial vision for the Sioux City's first public campground, which city officials originally viewed as a rustic destination for families looking for "stay-cations" but now would be positioned in a more industrial setting with an eye toward serving exhibitors at the expo center.
The project also has been pushed back a few years in the city's proposed capital improvements budget.
In mid-2016, the city viewed preliminary site designs for a 52-space campground at 3400 Sioux River Road near the Big Sioux River, but the city later ran into problems acquiring the necessary land from private owners.
The City Council then moved the project back a year during last year's budgeting process, instructing staff to continue exploring alternate locations.
City Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore said the city sees the new proposed location, on city-owned land to the south of the proposed ag center, to be a logical fit because of the need for a campground to serve those visiting the expo center for agricultural and equestrian events.
"The idea would be that the campground would help support the efforts of the expo center, especially during your agricultural events and shows," Salvatore said. "There's a lot of people who bring campgrounds or trailers to those types of events."
A map in the city's capital improvements budget book shows the campground on city-owned land bordering Bacon Creek and accessed by Cunningham Drive. The proposed site is south and east of the ag center and east of Verschoor Meats, a small, specialty hog slaughter plant.
Salvatore said the project remains in the preliminary stages as far as the layout and plans. Asked whether the city foresaw any issues with locating a campground near a livestock plant, Salvatore reiterated the plans were still in the beginning stages.
"The plan is so preliminary that we haven’t really dug into any of those things," he said.
The $16 million Bomgaars Ag Expo Center will be built on a city-owned parcel where the larger John Morrell hog slaughter plant once stood. The Morrell plant, one of the last vestiges of the city's livestock district, closed in April 2010.
The 200,000-square-foot ag center will feature a 45,000-square-foot main arena and approximately 2,000 seats, a warm-up arena and additional exhibit space. The large space will also allow for removable indoor turf and sport courts to be used for recreation purposes such as sports practices, games, tournaments and camps. Construction is expected to begin this year.
Dirk Lohry, president of the Siouxland Expo Center Board of Directors, said he sees the campground as a valuable space for event attendees, as well as an additional revenue source.
"Most ag expos that I've seen around the area do have some sort of an RV park nearby," Lohry said. "It's not only good for the operation of the equestrian events and other events, but it's also a profit-setter."
The campground would be the first such facility within the Sioux City limits. In the city's proposed five-year capital improvement program, the project is slotted for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021. The plan includes $1.25 million in funding for that year and $1.25 million for the following budget year.
Salvatore said discussions on the project would likely begin next budget year at the earliest.
"It's not something that is high on the priority list right now," he said.
The city paid JEO Consulting Inc. $72,340 to determine a proper site for the park. The firm had also presented preliminary designs and cost estimates for the site at 3400 Sioux River Road. Salvatore said he believes some of the preliminary planning would still apply to the new location.