Letter from the Editor

Thursday, May 25, 2006

More than passing glance for the Cobb

It has been suggested that since Storm Lake needs a new Senior Citizens Center, and since the Cobblestone has sat vacant for want of a use, that the two might make beautiful music together.

I don't know if that's possible - it would take a lot to restore the Cobb, some seniors might not want to go that far, it would cost a lot to cool and heat - the challenges would be myriad and real.

Yet it's worth taking a look at.

The historic value of the Cobblestone is unquestionable - it is one of the Storm Lake area's most beloved landmarks.

And let's call a spade a spade here - it seems that while it is in the hands of an out-of-state owner, it's likely to do nothing but sit and fall further into disrepair. Nothing's been done in years.

For all we are putting into the AWAYSIS showplaces, they will be just steps down the LakeTrail from a boarded up vacancy, a tarnished treasure that is already there but with which we have somehow managed to do nothing at all.

I don't know if a Senior Center there could be viable, though that would kill two needs with one stone.

Even if not, it seems like high time to put some thought into doing something, before an opportunity becomes nothing but an eyesore.

As we have learned from AWAYSIS, partnership is the way to go. Perhaps a committee made up of representatives of the cities of Lakeside and Storm Lake, the county, chamber, historical society and even the state historical leaders and rock and roll hall of fame officials who have shown an interest could chew over ideas for the best possible use - be it business or museum, dance hall or steak house or convention center or something we have yet to imagine.

Once we have a use, a least we could approach the owner with something solid, and begin to touch base with the restoration people and grant programs that could make such a thing happen.

The Cobblestone has never been in public hands, and we can't presume to speak for the owner. But instead of paying taxes and mowing weeds for a property that returns nothing, it might be an attractive offer to make an agreement that would let the cities of Lakeside and Storm Lake have a go at marketing the site for some productive use - it seems like everyone stands to win.

Perhaps the ultimate answer is that there is no use for it - and sadly, if that is the case, we may as well make room for more condos... but at least we could say we had tried.

Come July, the road to our $30 million AWAYSIS is going to run right through a boarded-up part of our community heritage, and I can't help but think that a lot of our new guests in the fancy lodge down the street are going to wonder why.

Perhaps we can send them to the Senior Center for an explanation of what once was - I'll bet you the folks there remember.


Here's a daunting thought. If you had a child born this year, the Pilot's 401K advisor recently came up with some good guesstimates on what the cost of living is going to be before they turn 30. (This is assuming a continued rate of inflation at about 4 percent).

A gallon of gas by 2036 would be $7.30. A base model car, say $82,000. A house that would sell for $200k today, not far from three quarters of a million bucks. Better start saving, baby.