First meeting for local commission
The State Park Planning Committee kicked off yesterday afternoon with a lot of big ideas for the future of Storm Lake.
Twenty-two people attended the meeting, including David Ciaccio of the Ciaccio Dennell Group - the land planning firm hired to conduct the feasibility study and master plan for the proposed state park.
Those attending represented the cities of Storm Lake and Lakeside, Storm Lake Area Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Storm Lake Park Board, as well as local businesses, hotels and the Storm Lake Diversity Task Force.
The initial meeting was designed to give the planners the first round of ideas of what a Storm Lake State Park can be.
"We want you to think of what this project should look like five years, 10 years and 20 years down the road," said Ciaccio.
Ideas ranged from the familiar lodge/convention center, aquatic center and expanded trails, to some new ones - such as firming up common nicknames for the different areas of the lake and tying the state park project in with the downtown.
Ciaccio said yesterday's meeting was one of the better kick-offs he's attended.
"People are showing a strong personal feeling about this and what this project should be," he said. "People are committed to this project and have a lot of great ideas to offer. It's a good start."
While the park planning phase is commencing, so is the economic feasibility portion for a lodge/convention/aquatics center. The Chicago-based Economic Research Associates is conducting that study.
Ciaccio said as the process moves along both that study and the park study will start to come together.
The planners from Ciaccio Dennell also heard of different organizations and interest groups they should meet with as they gather public input - such as anglers, the city's minority populations and others.
Ciaccio has already received maps of the entire area, identifying public and private land and existing structures. They will also tour the area and photograph it extensively.
For the next three weeks, the planners will work on gathering input from the public. People are encouraged to submit in writing any ideas to the Storm Lake City Hall.
"We're interested now in receiving information from people who have ideas for what should happen around the lake," Ciaccio said.
So far the planners will act without any particular direction until they are sure they have heard from all of the different parties in the community. A preliminary master plan will not be prepared until everyone has been heard from, Ciaccio said.
"Once we start hearing the same ideas from everybody, we know it's time to start the planning process," he said.
Ciaccio expects that to take about three weeks, at which time they will start putting together a preliminary master plan. That should be in about six to seven weeks, he said.
Once that is assembled, the preliminary plan will be presented to the state park committee for review. Following that, the preliminary plan will be presented to the public.
After the public presentation, Ciaccio Dennell will begin to put the final master plan together.
The entire planning process should take approximately 12 weeks.