Guest Opinion

Monday, March 15, 2004

Don't stop with a State Park

What about the former Wal-Mart building?

I think the new State Park project is a good project, it has a lot of vision- a lot of future.

I understand the idea is to attract visitors to Storm Lake, to spend their money within our stores, to spend nights in our motels, to eat at our restaurants and to enjoy our lake.

But let's face it. We live in Iowa where the winter lasts 9 months and summer consists of 3 flaming hot months. Fall and spring have been reduced to a week in between. So out of the year we will have three months to "show off" our new renovations, to draw people into Storm Lake and to deepen the enjoyment of existing residents.

I am not opposed to the state park, it is a plan that is awe inspiring. It is a plan that looks at, "what can we do to ensure the livelihood of this community for years to come." A plan that will only beautify the "City Beautiful" to the next degree. Many towns our size do not plan for the future and unfortunately it is starting to reflect with population. We do need to plan, instill a lasting attraction for generations to come.

But, a recent letter to the editor got me thinking about our youth. A letter that questioned our funds going towards the State Park instead of a rec center or an indoor aquatic center that has been discussed in the past.

Since this city is open minded to vision... envision this... boys and girls basketball and volleyball tournaments on the weekends. A gigantic jungle gym and party room that kids can have birthday parties at, allowing local restaurants to cater in. An indoor pool, ping pong tables, foosball, racquetball and billiards. Some kind of entertainment for these kids those extra nine months out of the year that the new lake/aquatic project can not provide.

The lake is a huge asset for the community, but how many 10-year-olds do you know that own and operate a boat or need to find lodging for the night. The lake front renovation is geared towards adults - exactly, perfect.

Those are the people who will spend the money in our town to keep things flowing and funded. But, what are we doing for our kids?

Now, I am not a contractor, architect or someone that knows anything about remodeling. I do not know how much money it would take to purchase that property, the cost to remodel with basketball courts, indoor pool- if there is enough space to do so.

I don't know, but think of the possibilities.

Think of the people visiting Storm Lake year-round for basketball tournaments. Out-of-towners being able to drop the kids off at a supervised location before they grocery shop or shop our retail stores. Attracting adult tournaments and leagues that also bring money into the community for a night or weekend.

Why can't the city entertain the idea of purchasing the former Wal-Mart building? Or maybe a private entity, like the Tyson Center in Sioux City. Or maybe a wide array of donors? The site could not be more perfect or more available.

So... what about it?

* Ralna Krager is a Pilot-Tribune advertising representative.