Letter from the Editor

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Common ground to build destination park

You can't please all of the people, all of the time. Or can you?

Listening to all the different opinions at the Storm Lake Destination Park public meeting Thursday, it seems there is more to agree on than to disagree with.

The designer may make some minor modifications based on the input, but it will ultimately be up to the city council to decide how much of the plan to pursue, and whether to go at it in phases or a big push for a government grant score.

Everyone seems to agree that Storm Lake can use some development to bring appeal and enjoyment to its lakefront and promote tourism. By now, I would hope everyone sees that we must build a decent pool for our children, develop a good beach for families, and deal with practical issues like lakefront lighting, shoreline stabilization and green space preservation. These will be needs with or without a "State Park" package around them.

The gripes with the details seem to be largely over commercialization of public park property, building a large lodge hotel right on the lakefront, and turning over part of the municipal golf course for building new townhouses.

Perhaps there is room for compromise. Revenue from a lodge could help support an aquatic center; including some new homes in the golf course area might bring property tax revenue to help maintain a better course in the future.

It is true that Storm Lake must preserve its precious parks, views and open access. Surely, most or all of the ideals of the destination park plan can be pursued without giving up that very sense of openness to all that sets us apart from other lake areas. If compromise is needed - such as a slight adjustment in the location of the lodge, there is no reason we can't cooperatively talk about it.

There are points worth debate in the plan - 20 tourist cabins would consume and crowd an awful lot of open park lakefront. We need to think twice on that. Moving a road is complicated business not to be taken lightly.

Will soft dredge fill ground with a high water table support a four-story stone and wood lodge? We need to know.

Bulldozing out a large part of our rare bit of established woodland to expand the municipal campground would not be an easy decision to make. Would colored jet fountains add or subtract to the natural glacial beauty of our lake? Lots of issues worthy of discussion.

In all, the destination park plan is a remarkable piece of work, and it is simply too good to be caught up in a divisive, extended debate.

The community will need to be on the same page in order to progress with such a big undertaking, and every skill in partnerships and networking will be tested. It can't be done tentatively, or half-way.

There is room for discussion and perhaps even some compromise and adjustments. But there is so much excitement and promise in this process, we all need to apply ourselves to find a way together to make it real.