Letter from the Editor

Monday, October 18, 2004

Center of Awaysis?

I was a bit surprised recently to hear a local leader refer to the lodge hotel as the "centerpiece" of the Project Awaysis destination park.

On reflection, I suppose that there are as many "centers" as there are people who love that Storm Lake lakefront. For those who see the project first as a source of tourists and revenue, the hotel would indeed be the center.

I'm not sure all the Storm Lake public would agree, though.

Of the concerns I hear from people, most revolve around the hotel. What will it do to the view? Does a commercial business belong in the public park? Is it fair for the city to build a hotel to compete against local businesses? How much green space will the parking take up? Is the soil there stable enough?

I don't think people generally oppose the hotel, but they do have questions. Perhaps the hotel, along with the housing development and the cabins, are the potential sources of income to help make the rest financially viable to maintain over time.

Tourism is a laudable goal, but for many, the centerpiece of the destination park is the ideas, some much less expensive, that will add to it in ways that will add new quality of life for resident families. There are many - a nice beach, a playground, the swimming facility our kids deserve, trails, an educational nature center, small excursion boat, a lovely Green Space gathering area and much more. We may need to be flexible in setting the priorities on out list, based on the realities of funding. The centerpiece will depend on your own age, interests, business, family situation, and your very personal view of your community and its future.

To me, the centerpiece will always be the beautiful natural lakefront with which we were entrusted. All we do should enhance it, protect it, frame it with beauty and activity, share it with new people who will appreciate it.

To me, that will be the beauty of the destination park, and the meaning of the term Awaysis - a place to get away from it all, and get away to it all. If it makes the lake, the lake makes it too.