An Editorial Post Submitted by Paul Towne Jayhawk Dr.
Originally conceived by Boise Cascade in 1968, LakeWildwood was to be a summer and weekend recreation retreat. In very short order however, as people came and fell in love with the areas beauty, weather, wildlife, friendly people and the wonderful amenities they decided to make LakeWildwood their full time residence. The question now facing our residents is LakeWildwood still as attractive to upcoming retirees and business professionals today, as it was forty-five years ago?
Certainly what attracted people to LakeWildwood in the first place still exist. In fact over the years LWW has grown and matured and now offers a wonderful number clubs and activities. Is that enough to attract new people? I don’t think so. I believe we need to look at what is going to attract a new generation of retirees.
Since the beginning, the center of the Wildwood community has been the clubhouse, by default. It was the only place that had enough space for the community to meet, celebrate and conduct business. Over the years it has been remodeled and spruced up multiple times and currently the board is exploring another remodel or a complete destruction and rebuild. I just got back from the BOD meeting. I listened very carefully to the presentation from MWA Inc. I found their presentation enlightening, but not surprising. There are dry rot issues, water leakage problems, and lots of little thinks that need to be taken care off. That’s nothing unexpected if you take in to account the building’s age. The cost of repair, including required ADA issues, would be around five hundred thousand. It sounded to me that a major remodel would cost as much, or more, than a rebuild. The figure for a new clubhouse presented at the meeting was three million. There is a concerted effort by some in LWW to start all over and build a new clubhouse. Is this the best use of our association’s limited resources? Below I offer an alternative plan, not just about the clubhouse, but my own master plan to move LakeWildwood forward. I’ll start with the clubhouse and community center.
The current clubhouse needs to be safe and sound, but that’s it. Spend the five hundred thousand to make it so. The Cedar Room should be converted to office space and all administration employees, with the exception of the front desk staff, should be moved there. This will open storage space, so all the records currently being stored in the “dirt room” can be moved. The old meeting room should be made an employee lounge. The bar and Pine Room would remain as is.
CLOSE THE FULL SERVICE RESTAURANT AND REPLACE IT WITH A GRILL. Currently the residents subsidize the restaurant to the tune of two hundred thousand a year! A grill can provide the golfing community (or anyone else) a quick and easy breakfast or lunch. Award an outside vendor a food service contract. They can supply the meals for all the special occasions and events. If there is sufficient demand for regular dinner service, let them take the risk and reap the reward. No other amenity or service has been studied and absorbed more hours of volunteer efforts than the clubhouse restaurant, yet we need to buy the red ink in barrels. The truth is LWW never has and never will support a full service restaurant. Imagine what other improvement could be made to the community with an extra two hundred thousand a year! Maybe it is time to try something new!
The Community Center is like a Ferrari Daytona. It’s beautiful to look at, but hardly used. It has no purpose other than to provide meeting space. The Oak Room is too small to be a proper multi-purpose room. It does not have a bar and has a miniscule a dance floor. When the Community Center was first proposed plans were resurrected from a proposal that originated in the 80s. Those plans included a proper multi-purpose room, larger than the Cedar Room. There was a fitness center, a stage and even a restaurant overlooking the lake. I believe there was space for a game room that could include a pool table, ping pong etc. I remember discussing the proposal with a then member of the board. This is what he told me, “The Community Center will never be the center of the community. That will always be the clubhouse.” So, even with thousands of hours of community input, you got exactly what the BOD intended from the beginning. Now these same people want to spend millions of dollars to demolish and rebuild the clubhouse.
This may sound a little silly, but we need to remodel the Community Center! The Oak Room and the level below it need to be pushed out as far towards the parking area as possible. I believe we can double the size of the Oak Room. This would make it a proper multi-purpose room. It would be larger than the Cedar Room. There would be room for a stage and dressing (meeting) rooms on the upper level. The expanded lower level would provide room for a fitness center and a family game room. This would give the community almost everything in the original 80s plan, sans the restaurant. I’m not a contractor, but I imagine this could be done for another five hundred thousand. So for one third the price of building a new clubhouse the community could have a showcase community center and a viable clubhouse. Of course this means retiring the clubhouse as the center of the community and letting it be the center of golf. A place where golfers can gather, grab a quick meal and visit the 19th hole when they are done. It’s a major change in thought process, but sometimes change is good… and less expensive.
Since I left LWW Pickle ball has exploded within the gates. Currently Pickle ball players are being forced to play on a stolen basketball court. They need a place of their own. I have walked the grass area at MeadowPark. This is a very unproductive park area. At one end lies a couple of Bocce Ball Courts. I propose the association install two pads (4 courts) for the Pickle ball players. I also believe we should add shuffleboard, horseshoe pits and a gazebo. This would make MeadowPark a center for outdoor games. Combined with a beautiful beach, it would be a great place to gather with family and friends! Financing for this project could come from the savings associated from closing the restaurant.
I would remove the horseshoe pits and shuffleboard from CommodorePark. They are stuck out in the middle of nowhere and are rarely used. Fill that area with grass and make that peninsula a place for weddings! With its newly remodeled jewel of a Community Center, LWW needs to actively promote itself as a wedding destination. The views of the lake are stupendous. Guests would have a gorgeous view of the wedding from the deck outside the Oak Room. This is one proposal that will make, rather than cost money. The money brought in by renting the Oak Room for wedding can be used to help offset the expense of additional staff and Community Center maintenance. At the far end of the peninsula, at the entrance of the marina, I would like to see a veteran’s memorial. This is right across the main pavilion at CommodorePark. What I envision is a large tall illuminated American flag (like you see in front of car dealerships) on the point. Facing the flag, in a half circle, would be a statue representing each of the five services (in full dress uniform, at attention and with hand salute). In front of the five service representatives would be a nurse kneeling and holding a wounded or dead solider, to honor all those who were injured or gave their life for our country. I can see the concept in my head better than I can describe it with words, but I hope you get the picture. Funding for this project would be completely private. I think it is a duty of every community to honor our veterans.
LakeWildwood lost a major opportunity when we voted down the proposal to bring natural gas into the community. To be a 21st century community, LWW needs natural gas and all other utilities underground. To accomplish this LWW will have to partner with the utilities. I hope the court room shenanigans are over and a new cell phone tower is on the horizon. Reliable communication, power and gas will greatly enhance our community and our property values.
Lastly, since moving back to LWW I have noticed the community seems to have gotten older. It’s sad to say, but I see a large turnover of residents in the not too distant future. It is time for LWW to start marketing itself. Creating demand will drive up property values. This in turn could make it more profitable to sell rather than rent. I would like to see the BOD establish a marketing committee and give them a small budget. This committee should partner with local realtors to sell LakeWildwood. LakeWildwood has an advantage over almost every other community in the state…the lake! Combine the lake with all the previous suggestions and I believe we can transform LWW into one of the most desirable communities to live in, in the country, without accruing massive debt! This can only make life better and improve property values for all the residents of LakeWildwood. Thanks for taking the time to read my manifesto!!!!