Auld-Brokaw Trail Repairs Advancing Slowly

Portions of Yankton’s Auld-Brokaw Trail were severely damaged or destroyed by flooding from the March bomb cyclone.



It could be quite some time before people are able to bike or walk the full length of Yankton’s Auld-Brokaw Trail.

During its regular meeting Monday, the Yankton City Commission voted unanimously in favor of a $60,035 amendment to the Auld-Brokaw Maintenance Trail and Marne Creek Bank Restoration contract between the city and Banner Engineering.

Public Works Director Adam Haberman said Banner has been assessing the project alongside state and federal officials.

“They did the survey and looked at all the damages,” he said. “They’ve also met with FEMA and the state officials a lot on the direction this project needs to go and how it needs to be put together and packaged — which hasn’t been a quick process by any means.”

More than two years removed from the March 2019 bomb cyclone that wrecked large portions of the trail, Haberman said that the project is getting to a point where further study may be required.

“As the project has developed, it’s moved past a certain threshold that requires additional environmental analysis,” he said. “It’s not a very fast process. We’ve met a lot of FEMA officials through this from all over the place and trying to find the right people to ask certain questions to sometimes takes a little longer than what we’d like. The state’s been very good to work with in getting answers.”

He said that hopes are to bid out the project for construction in 2022, but this may be wishful thinking.

“We’re hoping to have something to put out for bid this fall,” he said. “But with this new environmental process, it could add an extra 12 months. It has to be done in a certain sequence with the design of the project, otherwise, FEMA has told us, we will have to start completely over in the process, and we don’t want that to happen. We’ll take it step by step and assemble it in the right order keeping in contact with the state and FEMA to make sure we’re doing that right.”

Commissioner Tony Maibaum praised the efforts of city staff and Banner, but also expressed his frustrations with FEMA.

“I definitely appreciate the patience of Adam and team, the folks at Banner and state officials as well,” he said. “If there is ever a federal entity that needs a complete rehab and is a complete oxymoron when you think about their name, it’s FEMA. We’re talking about an emergency that happened years ago.”

Monday night also saw the city address the impending reality of legalized medical marijuana in the state and the fact that some city staff may inevitably be prescribed cannabis.

The board voted unanimously on changes to the city’s employee manual and collective bargaining agreement pertaining to the use of medicinal cannabis.

City Manager Amy Leon said that it’s still strictly forbidden to be under the influence on the job.

“If you’re impaired to the point where you cannot function and perform your job, we certainly don’t condone that and that’s a cause for disciplinary action up to and including termination,” she said. “We also know that, because of the nature of marijuana and how it works, you might have it in your system and be legally authorized to use it and have it in your system at work, but not be impaired.”

Leon said that the new rules are needed for when someone may test positive but wasn’t actually impaired on the job and is legally using.

“We need to make provisions in our policy manual so that if somebody is under suspicion or if there’s a reason to believe they’re impaired or they just get drawn for a random (drug test) and they end up having a positive test for marijuana or THC, if they produce their license to use it, they would not face disciplinary action,” she said.

She noted that there are certain city staffers, however, that would be unable to used cannabis, no matter what, due to state or federal statutes.

“Those folks that have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate heavy equipment, there’s a zero-tolerance there,” she said. “We have some positions such as our police department where we have a zero-tolerance (policy).”

She said that there will be further discussions on the policy for recreational cannabis should ongoing legalization efforts ultimately be successful.  

In other business Monday, the board:

• Held a work session to discuss the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP), 2022 budget and American Recovery Plan funding;

• Implemented medical marijuana dispensary licensing fees;

• Adjusted kennel license fees;

• Approved an annexation request;

• Approved two plats and a conditional-use permit;

• Announced a potential quorum for Friday, July 9, at a party celebrating the retirement of outgoing police chief John Harris. No official business will be conducted.

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(1) comment

Yankton resident

I do understand Commissioner Maibaum's frustrations with FEMA, but I do not feel that the highly critical criticism of FEMA's response to the Auld-Brokaw trail is justified.

There are wants and needs, the trail is a want. To be so critical of a want is unjustified. I do believe that FEMA's response to needed critical infrastructure (a need) is vastly more important than addressing a want that does not require hasty repair or replacement for the public safety and well being.

All levels of government sometimes work at a snail's pace regardless of size, depending on the critical need and the availability of resources and money. Remember, ultimately the taxpayer is the one paying for it. There are many things in life that we all want, ultimately most of us cannot afford wants that are not critical to our subsistence.

I have seen the City laboriously slow at addressing some of my wants, not necessarily my needs, I understand that and am careful not to criticize them publicly, after all some of our wants are selfish in nature and do not fit the need of critical infrastructure. Free federal money is nice, but it actually comes at a cost to the taxpayer too.

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