Letter from the Editor

Monday, August 28, 2006

On top of AWAYSIS

When I got the chance to tour the King's Pointe waterfront development this week, I didn't have to be asked twice. I left skid marks...

Over the past couple of months, I've waded through neck-high weeds, climbed atop my Jeep, stretched over fences, shot through tiny windows of opportunity as big machines coated me with dirt - trying to get decent photos of this hummer growing. At last, a chance to get inside without getting busted!

Standing on top of the building under construction was a moment I won't soon forget. Impression one - one wrong step backward with that camera, and your editor becomes one more geopier embedded headfirst in the dirt underneath AWAYSIS.

A few more productive thoughts soon followed, however.

One - this is one KILLER view, people. The sun was just getting ready to set between trees over a calm lake that night. Picture Postcard. From those balconies and the outdoor dining patio, it's going to be the most awesome view in Iowa.

Two - I'm amazed at how it all works together. It may seem like chaos on a construction site with 45 people working for two contractors and several subcontractors scurrying around on a given day, but only from on top of the thing do you really get an appreciation for how the whole thing flows together - lodge, indoor waterpark, outdoor pools, slides and rides, grading, landscaping, traffic patterns. The precision with which it is emerging is pretty amazing. To the companies and the workers, much appreciation. To Mike Wilson, my hard hat is off (well, not really, that would be against construction site rules). The man has done an incredible job, in circumstances that are not always kind.

Three - it is all bigger than I expected. I'm humbled standing in the middle of it; staring at the steel girders that will soon be a glassy lobby, upscale restaurant and convention center; trying to picture a lighted slide tower so tall it can be seen from Highway 71 outside the city. The site seems three hundred yards or so, maybe, end to end, enough to work up a sweat. I think that one day people may walk laps around it for fitness, and perhaps the trail in that area should be outfitted to capitalize on that.

Four - son of a gun, this is cool beans. It's not perfect, if there is such a thing at all - some nice things have had to be trimmed to make the budget work, the pool is in yards instead of meters as we all know by now, a little green space has been sacrificed, one waterpark ride proved unfeasible, it will take a little longer than we would have liked to get all the AWAYSIS areas open.

We could nitpick it to death, and a few seem inclined to do just that. Generally, they are people who made no effort to contribute in the initial planning or the volunteer aspects of the project, which makes it convenient to criticize now.

There's a heck of a lot more good about this project than there are compromises. I would suspect that anyone standing atop this emerging landmark with me would have had the same feeling.

Everyone can and should have their say, critics included. This project is going to change Storm Lake, and it is wise to openly discuss that change now. It is happening already - several major business developments have been announced or are in the works right now in part because of the role of AWAYSIS in a vital community. Looks like the predictions were not so far-fetched.

There have been potholes in this road to development - some of them bordering on axle-busters. You don't take on a project of this magnitude in this rapid timeframe without some challenges. And still, it is rising - rapidly now.

Hard to imagine that next spring, an exciting resort hotel, restaurant, convention site, indoor and outdoor waterparks will hopefully be open on a site that was mostly bare dirt this past midsummer - with more to follow. Personally, I'm a beach fan. It speaks volumes that the community is making it happen.

Is success assured? Of course not. Is there some risk? Oh yeah. If the option is doing nothing, Storm Lake is so much better off for the effort, I think.

Now, we've got King's Pointe. It's no longer just a pretty pipe-dream of a picture on an architect's drawing board. It is going to take ALL of us as a community to help make it as much of a success as we possibly can be.

How do we do that? Talk it up, for one thing. It is a huge development, take pride in it and invite everyone you know. Plan your business or family gathering in Storm Lake, Iowa's newest and coolest resort. Tell businesspeople with needed goods and services that they should get in on Storm Lake. Soon, the criticisms will fade into excitement for what has been achieved.

Standing on top of it all, I soak up a moment. We have come a long way, Storm Lake, and there is still much more to do.