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Varied Ideas Emerge From ‘Eye On The Storm’

By Staff | Feb 26, 2009

EYE ON THE STORM brought a crowd to the former golf course club house Tuesday night. Community residents participated in a planning meeting, strategizing on uses for the city-owned building. People ranging in age from 8 to 80 submitted ideas that focused on Five Island Lake, tourism and golf. --Jane Whitmore photo

Ideas flowed freely when over 70 people gathered at the formerly golf club house Tuesday night. Ranging in age from 8 to over 80, people gave opinions on what they would like to see on the city-owned property.

The property under discussion is south of the golf course and includes the former club house and lakefront property.

At the end of the evening, two major questions remained unanswered. Will the existing club house structure stay or go? Will there be sustainable funding for the many viable events proposed by the public.

Best Memories

Following a tour of the building and a meal served by members of Emmetsburg High School Spanish Club, it was down to business. Abbie Gaffey, Community & Economic Development Field Specialist, Iowa State University, took charge of the community planning session.

“What is the best memory you have of this site?” Gaffey asked the group.

Answers ranged from golf to social events, parties, dances, running cross country and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July.

With those thoughts in mind, ten tables were divided into spring/summer and fall/winter to identify activities for those seasons at the site.

“What activities would you like to see happening at this site at various times of the year?” Gaffey asked. “What would you like to see year around?”

With each question, the ideas expanded in scope. Golf-related events were identified, along with lake-related activities and the need for food on site

Making better use of the lake was a common suggestion, with the possibility of a marina, canoe and kayak rental, and even setting up a golf course on the ice.

Teens in the group think the building could be used as a place for worldly debate, giving people the opportunity to be more involved in world causes. Another thought was setting up short-wave radio in the building so people could talk with others in the United States and around the world.

Here is a partial list of suggestions for the site:

Dock, picnic area, outdoor pool, boat repair, convenience store, and rental of jet skis, canoes, kayaks, bikes and paddle boats.

Bike and walking trails, outdoor restaurant, tiki bar, biking and walking bridge, beach, foreign products store, and weapons store where hunting supplies could be sold.

Paint ball, teen hangout, patio off the dining room, book club and store, art studio, tae kwondo/dojo, music studio/club.

Haunted house, homecoming, skating, receptions, card clubs, pool league, dances, school dances, snowmobile gatherings, hockey/broomball, snow and ice sculpture.

Chalk talk after football, glow ball golf, senior citizen dances, ice fishing tournaments, business after hours.

Cross country skiing, post-E’Hawk football parties, winter games, monthly steak fry, youth center, virtual golf, NFL game social.

TGIF parties, outdoor deck and porch dining, media meeting area, polar bear club, and Chamber Friday after hours.

Dance pavilion, ice fishing, ice skating, community space and ballroom, art gallery, tea parties, teen dance, laser tag, mini golf, PC game tournaments, guitar hero.

Open to the public, dining evening and lunches, mini golf, dock for lake access, meeting/conference rooms, resort rooms, live entertainment, kids activities, holiday parties.

Boat, fish, golf, camping, picnic, walk in the park, watch birds, swim in the lake, golf lessons, meeting space, dances and parties.

Social events, catering for events, happy hours, and the need for separate inside and outside management.

Reception area, structured as an organization with subcommittees, work with Iowa Lakes Community College in areas of food and golf greens keeping.

Community Participation

“What are some ways young people, the elderly, families and community groups can participate in these activities?” was the next question posed to the group.

Again the ideas flowed like water. Advertise what’s available. Provide social activities for youth and adults. Catering and kitchen facilities. New building and new parking lot. Public access to the lake, docks and facilities to enjoy the view. A marina for boats, with focus on the sportsman part. Cabins, retreat, outdoor deck and pool, picnic area, and boat tours of Five Island Lake.

Aggie Gaffey pointed out that Emmetsburg has been extremely successful in the past with community projects, citing the fitness center, library, industrial park, track, Little E’Hawk Wrestling and others. What has worked well in the past? Answers included funding from many sources, people who are passionate about the project and the community pulling together/going in the same direction.

When the group was asked for ways to get the public involved, answers focused strongly on conducting a survey on paper and online. Questions might include: Does Emmetsburg need a community center? Is there funding available? What is the level of community support? Keep the building the way it is?

The end result saw the primary focus: community, tourism, golf. There are still many unanswered questions and an equal number of great ideas as the city leaders look for direction. To accommodate all of these ideas, the site must be handicap accessible, showcase Five Island Lake and be multi-functional.

Abbie Gaffey will compile all of the information and put it into a report for Emmetsburg City Council.

“Everyone should be so lucky to have a site like this,” she told the group.