GFP opens a new era for the Sylvan Lake complex

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PIERRE, SD (KELO) – An architecture and planning firm from Rapid City has presented its recommendations for upgrades to the Sylvan Lake Resort complex in Custer State Park.

Wyss Associates Inc.’s work could eventually cover the rest of the park in southwest South Dakota.

“The first bit is Sylvan Lake,” state parks and recreation division director Scott Simpson told the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission on Friday.

Pat Wyss said his recommendations for Sylvan Lake Lodge and the surrounding area combine ways to maintain and enhance natural systems while accommodating current footfall.

Wyss said a “very transparent” process involved a working group, multiple levels of public input, open houses and discussions with park managers.

One recommendation is to place an event platform next to the auditorium so that weddings and other groups do not need to congregate by the lake.

“Some people don’t want a wedding there at all,” Wyss said of the resort in general.

A related problem he discovered was tight parking and traffic jams. He suggested reconfiguring the store’s parking lot to add stalls and place curbs on the famous Needles Highway.

Another recommendation is to create a well-designed trail loop between the lodge and the lake, so people can leave vehicles parked at either.

He said a related stop could be a shuttle that seats eight to 12.

Wyss also recommended reviewing the escalation management plan and installing new toilets on the beach.

He said there wasn’t much information on the lake itself and suggested a lake bottom survey and detailed year-round water quality monitoring.

A nod to the future, it is also recommended to install charging stations for electric vehicles.

“It was a great report, great recommendations,” said Gary Jensen of Rapid City, chairman of the committee.

“Good report, looks like some pretty incredible developments,” said Commissioner Mary Anne Boyd of Yankton.

“I like it. Great idea,” said Watertown Commissioner Doug Sharp.

“I like to be thorough,” Wyss replied.

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