Idea is in 'discussion stage'
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources plans to bring in its principal state park planner as interest grows in establishing a state park in Storm Lake.
Arnie Sohn, of the DNR's conservation and recreation division, said there are a number of possibilities for such a venture with cooperation between the state, city, county and other stakeholders.
A state park designation could be assigned to a linking of public city and county parks with trails, as well as some other structures such as the Cobblestone Inn in Lakeside. "We're trying to see if there's potential for some kind of enhancement and consolidation and packaging of those things around Storm Lake," Sohn said.
Sohn was just one who toured the area last week, along with State Parks Bureau Chief Steve Pennington.
Having Storm Lake listed as a state park has the potential to boost tourism. "There's a certain amount of stature with having something called a state park, people look for something use for promotion and advertising," he said. "You certainly have a nice town and a nice lake and nice facilities."
The current idea would be similar to Gull Point on Okoboji, which has one main park area and a number of satellite parks spread throughout the Iowa Great Lakes.
An obvious starting point would be the LakeTrail which links together a number of city parks in Storm Lake. That type of system could link together different public areas around Storm Lake, Sohn said.
"It provides recreation and a safe means of access to and between attractions."
The Cobblestone Inn site could potentially fit into that picture, Sohn said, since it sits right on the lake - though there are no immediate plans. "Obviously it carries a lot of nostalgia for people living in and around Storm Lake and remember the good old days. It's worth looking at."
"It's a nice location and retains the look and feeling of the old Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, and it makes them functional instead of having no public benefit or public use," Sohn said. "(The Cobblestone) could be renovated to be what it was or it could be significantly reshaped as a closed shelter with convention rooms.
"No one knows what that decision will be, but it's sitting there on the lakeshore," he said.
As the work proceeds, Sohn said the local entities may use a park planner to develop a proposal of what could be done for Storm Lake. "This is in the discussion stage," Sohn said. "It's not your stereotypical state park, but it doesn't mean the state wouldn't be a partner."