Should Lakeside get involved?
For at least one member of the Lakeside City Council, the time has come to do something about the old Cobblestone Ballroom.
"It is reaching the point where it needs to either be sold, fixed up or torn down," said Burt Bonebrake of the long-vacant landmark. He plans to bring the issue to the council at the April meeting.
"I would like to see the council take more of an active role, to perhaps work with the owner of the Cobblestone property to determine if there is a specific direction to take on what to do with it," he said.
With the $30 million Awaysis plan springing up nearby, it would be a shame to have a landmark continuing to fall into disrepair next door on the lakefront, Bonebrake said.
"With Awaysis, we may have the best opportunity yet to get something positive going.
"I think there is a chance of getting the Cobblestone restored, and I think there are a number of potential uses for it if it could come back on line," he said.
Bonebrake says he has not been abe to reach the owner, who lives in Colorado. Earlier plans to restore and reopen the site were scrapped, and it has been considered up for sale for some time. The Cobblestone building is valued at around $91,000, and the land at over $50,000, Bonebrake said.
The costs are probably too steep for the City of Lakeside itself to purchase outright.
"A few years ago I did a survey of Lakeside residents, and the answer was clear that people very much wanted to see something done with the Cobblestone - as long as it didn't cost them anything," Bonebrake said.
Still, there is a possibility that the city could partner with the owner to more aggressively market the building, or seek historical grants to renovate. "I think it would make a great community center, a good place for senior citizens to meet, and it could still host dances whenever performers come down the road if we could put it back into respectable shape," Bonebrake said. "We would have to find some neutral ground with the owner."
With few potential options for development in the small lakefront town, the Cobblestone represents an opportunity that Bonebrake said he would hate to see lost. "There are a lot of people who remember the Tommy Dorsey days, and if you could do something with the Cobblestone, I think it could only add to the attractions that Storm Lake is starting with Awaysis."
However, more and more comments are being heard that the ballroom might as well be torn down instead of sitting useless. "People say that if nothing is going to be done with it, we might as well demolish it and turn the area into a park," Bonebrake said.
In other Lakeside news, the council is changing an ordinance in hopes of cleaning up nuisance properties. According to Bonebrake, there have been several homes with junk cars or other eyesores. The city first sent out letters requesting clean-up, then tried having the sheriff's department deliver second notices. There are still a few places where problems persist, and a new tougher ordinance will allow the city to begin fining those property owners.