By John Karkheck
The Clark Lake Community Center aims to preserve the iconic cottage that stood on Kentucky Point for 100 years, and to provide a place for meetings and events. Of course, maintaining a building that is now 120 years old is no small feat. It takes money. The plan to build a pavilion next to the current structure was intended to allow for larger groups with the hope of increasing revenue. It also required signing over ownership to Jackson County. That plan evoked significant pushback from the Clark Lake community. If listening is an underrated quality, let me assure you that it was alive and well with the Community Center board.
It is the Board’s decision to drop the plan to build a pavilion and turn over ownership to the County–or any level of government. Whether our board holds ownership of the Community Center building is not as important as this point: The Center exists for the people of Clark Lake. In the view of our board, the building is owned on behalf of our wonderful community.
The structure is located in the County Park. Our agreement with the County must be renewed every five years. It will be our goal to establish a much longer agreement, perhaps 50 or 99 years. We hope the County is willing to do this.
It might be worthwhile to examine the lake’s connection to this building, and why we call it “iconic.” When the house was about to be razed, there was public outcry to save it. But, why? This house, which stood on Kentucky Point for 100 years, meant far more than other old cottages that have been taken down for new structures. What was the difference? There is heartfelt emotion attached to the Community Center building because of its high visibility on Kentucky Point and the history those at the lake ascribe to it. Many at the lake today have wonderful childhood memories of the lake—swimming, boating, water skiing, roller skating at the Point. Maybe they found their first summer romance here. Some of those romances turned into a lifetimes together. Perhaps they participated in Fleet 58, the largest in the country. All that time, the house stood watch on Kentucky Point. It is the emotional marker for people who love their experience at Clark Lake. That’s why the lake came together to save the house, and got it done at the very same time the Spirit Trail was being built.
The Community Center is all about preserving Clark Lake’s past. Over the last couple years, we have sought out historical pieces that tell the story of Clark Lake’s history and culture. Inside the building we’ve designed a new Wall of Fame. Some of those artifacts are already mounted, and we look forward to telling you about what’s there now and the coming attractions. We feel these additions to our walls will enhance the desirability of the house for meetings and events as well as a way to preserve our past. The ambience is superb—the cozy, historic interior, the Garden Angel’s beautiful landscaping, and the excellent view of Clark Lake.
The Community Center won’t survive on rental income alone. Donations are essential. Last fall, many attended our fundraiser. If you were there, we thank you. Major expenses are ahead as we face major infrastructure issues. In the future, we expect to lay out before the Clark Lake community what needs to be done to save this building. We hope you’ll consider joining this effort, just as Clark Lake came together to save the house and move it down the lake in 1997.