Letter from the Editor

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Storm Lake boom in perspective

The problem with historic periods is that you can live through them without really appreciating them.

Take a look around Storm Lake today. Does anything look extraordinary to you? It should.

Think about it. In the history of this city - and the history of most communities our size - there has never, EVER, been such a period in which so dang much money is poised to be invested.

It boggles the imagination of those of us who raid the change under the sofa cushions in order to finance the purchase of a Whopper with cheese. Add it up, and you have a number with more zeroes attached to it than the opposition's batting averages against Eric Wordekemper's pitching for St. Mary's.

If all of the ambitions come to be, Storm Lake will be changed in a very short period of time, more change in less time than ever before.

We all know the projects and ideas on the board. But do we appreciate them as the mass forward force that they are? Taken together, we are in a period with enormous potential for growth and development, most of it hard earned from inside the community itself.

Start adding up the figures:

* Work could begin as early as this fall on a $26 million Science Center at BVU - which will be the most expensive building ever built in Storm Lake, period. This is on top of the new $9 million BVU recreation center.

* Throw in a few mill more for the new Liberty Hall at BVU, and a nice chunk of change for new parking areas.

* A full generation of planning is going into the $4 million dredging project on Storm Lake this season. It is history in the making. Add $3.5 million for the planned additional local Lake Preservation efforts to follow over the next five years, and you have a titanic investment in our community's environmental resources.

* The complete replacement of North Lake Avenue in Storm Lake has been a need for years, and is now happening, via an assist from the Iowa DOT. Storm Lake's street improvements alone will total $1.7 million this season.

* Water problems this summer should be a motivating factor in getting the major expansion project for the Storm Lake water plant back on track. Splash another $6.8 million in local and industry dollars on that.

* Don't forget the whopping plan for a new community center and aquatic center. Weighing in at $11 million or so, the plan stands to be a major quality of life improvement in Storm Lake.

* Before another year is gone, talk should be firming up toward a large new elementary school in Storm Lake and perhaps also the performance auditorium the high school has long needed. No one has yet ventured a guess at cost, but $10 million may not be out of line. Depending on how they are designed and fitted out, it could well

surpass the middle school in terms of historic investment in the city's education system.

* A Wal-Mart Supercenter is underway that will be the largest retail structure in city history. They aren't saying what the thing costs, but by the time it's stocked and staffed, $20 million might be conservative. There are many other new and potential businesses and industry adding to that investment total in the community.

* The medical center is going great guns with its long-awaited expansion, including the new Women's Health Center and rehabilitation unit, earmarked in excess of $5 million. It is a watershed moment in itself.

* The trumpeter swan restoration program, with a large state and volunteer investment in turning a former borrow pit into an environmental showplace.

* There's more, of course - a hundred grand expanding the LakeTrail this season, a city plan to obtain the former Harbor House to add to the parks system, hopes to get the Cobblestone Inn ballroom into local hands for renovation as a historic entertainment attraction or development into some sort of convention center and trade site, the plan to launch a Main Street Iowa initiative to preserve and improve downtown structure, hopes to develop a "second story" upscale apartment district on Lake Avenue.

Amazing, isn't it? It is a historic time in the makings in Storm Lake; a time of change and growth.

My calculator is smoking as the total passes $120 million in recent, current, near future, and proposed projects for Storm Lake.

It's really something. I'm glad I was here to see it happening. Let's celebrate and appreciate it.

- Cheers, The Editor