The following is the text of a letter written by Flip Reynolds and sent to members of the Clark Lake Community Center Board:
After reading the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation article dated November 13, 2019, I am very concerned for the Center and Community.
The idea of turning ownership of the Clark Lake Community Center over to Jackson County and the Parks Department is the “worst possible thing that could be done.” The Center was and is a project of the Clark Lake Community. The Center’s purpose is to provide a gathering place for the community and a place to show and preserve the history of Clark Lake and its people.
The Clark Lake Community came together with its own resources and the hard work of many community members to move and restore a part of Clark Lake’s history. It was not done to be given to a government entity. Yes, there will be an advisory board and some management by some community members. But ask yourself “What power do you really have over 13 commissioners and a park board??” Simply put, very little if any, which is evident by the Jackson County Parks 2019-20 Parks Capital Investment Plan.
Approximately 30 community members, including myself, attended a workshop hosted by the County and their paid consultants to make suggestions on much needed improvements now and in the future to the Clark Lake County Park. These paid consultants admitted they had not visited Clark Lake or the park. Not one item on the list of priorities developed by the residents who attended was included in the new plan.
Do you really want the County to take ownership of a Clark Lake treasure and our history? Does the County government have the love and compassion for Clark Lake that the community has? I don’t think so! The county has to provide for 10+ parks, a new convention center at Keely Park (the old fair grounds) the Cascades Manor House and three trails which does not include the Clark Lake Spirit Trail.
Look at the County’s track record: two directors and an interim director in three and a half years, two different paid consultants for park improvements in four years. Nothing was done with the first consultant’s park plans, let alone seen by the public. It was a waste of time and lots of tax dollars.
The Clark Lake Community Center Board should first get rid of the five year lease (that expired, the last I knew) and get the 99 year lease done as the previous director Hovarter wanted. The 99- year lease was to protect the Community Center from the changing political landscape and to give the Center some long-range planning opportunities and stability.
Let the Community know that the Center is in much needed TLC and repairs, and the funds to keep operating and maintain it, besides the occasional rental income of the Center. The community will support its treasures and gathering place.
Please Don’t Give Clark Lake History and Its Treasures Away!
Thank you Community Center Board Members for your dedication and hard work.
3rd Generation Clark Laker (517) 206-3546
Editor’s note: The Clark Lake Community Center is separate from the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, publisher of this website.
Flip, couldn’t agree more. I left that consultant meeting after hearing they hadn’t even looked at the park.
Amen on all counts. Flip has accurately and concisely set forth why this is not a good idea for Clark Lake and its residents.
PS I reasonably believe that an organized annual solicitation of Clark Lake residents would go along way towards addressing the much needed repairs and ongoing operation along with keeping the Center independently managed by those who understand it’s history and care for its being properly preserved.
Well said, Flip. The county is seems to be interested in money making projects, not the well being of local residents or the historical associations that has been the basis of The Clark Lake Foundation. County ownership would mean nothing would be done that held the interests of Clark Lake as its first priority. I agree with Steve. To the extent the Center needs repair and operation costs, I doubt there would be much of a problem finding funding among the residents of this lake.
Spot on instincts Flip.
I agree with Flip. Well said. Handing the park over to the county will not have a positive long term effect.
My wife attended the consultant meeting. We spoke that night about the meeting. When she left the meeting she said that she felt that there was no indication of any cohesive action for the park.
According to the current
City of Jackson and
Joint Recreation Plan
It says the plan for improvements to the Clark Lake County Park as designated nearly 5 years ago were as follows:
“Jackson County Action Program
Please see the map 6-1 for the location of the various projects (listed in alphabetical order and not all
A. Clark Lake County Park upgrades — Addition of modern restrooms, a play structure, a picnic
shelter, and landscaping.”
None of the above plans turned into action with the possible exception of improvements to the landscaping.
Installing new playground equipment continues to appear to be a stretch for the county to fund. Having to fund ongoing/monthly maintenance and capital improvements for the Community Center would appear to be out of scope and out of budget.
I just can’t see that the upkeep and improvement of the Community Center has a strong chance to be funded by the county in the long term.
We are in the park every week. Our daughter was married in the park this summer and her bridal party was in the Community Center prior to the wedding. Great location and great venue.
It would be a shame to look back 10 years from now and think how nice a facility the Community Center was before it was boarded up and nailed shut due to neglect by a county that had other constituents to satisfy.
As a second generation resident, my Mom and Dad purchased a summer cottage at the West end of Clark Lake in 1921. In 1933 my family and 6 month old Baby (me)moved permanently to my current address. I am 100 percent behind keeping the Clark Lake Community Center under local control. “It’s a Clarklake Thing, most won’t understand”
I agree with all previously stated comments. I to attended both meetings, leaving the meetings with no positive feelings that we residents were listened to and certainly that our comments would be acted on. My experience dealing with the park commissions has been unsuccessful at most, ignored every time and told we do not agree with you people at Clark Lake.
The Clark Lake park is serene and beautiful. Perfect for gatherings, family picnics and private meditation. The park is a jewel in our community. Please do not give the Center to the parks board to control.
Maybe the community should look into buying the park. Another Columbia township park. Or Clark lake spirit project. Is that a possibility? The county has more than they can handle. I thought I also heard the improvements available from the county were turned down due to concern of more people being drawn to a nice park and vandalizing the community center. Let fund raise and buy the property.
Very bad idea, we live across the street from the park and they barely take care of the park itself. this can’t happen!
I loved growing up at the lake. Keep it special for future generations. Keep it Clark Lake not Jackson county.
I note with some trepidation the public outcry that follow a story indicating that the Clarklake Community Center Board of Directors are: 1. Preparing to build a new pavilion that will provide opportunities for increased revenues that will be used to maintain the original building, 2. That the County is going to contribute $30,000 of the needed $130,000 and wants to “own” the Community Center as a result of that $30,000 contribution, 3. A private citizen will “finance” the additional $100,000, and 4. The County will maintain the new pavilion if they take ownership of the pavilion and the original building.
Here are a couple of facts that need to be considered; 1. The county owns the property that the Community Center sits on, 2. The Community Center Board pays the County to “lease” the property, 3. Notwithstanding the lease, the County can demand that the building be removed or torn down, and the Community Center Board will be responsible for paying for that removal, 4. The cost of maintaining the Community Center as a safe and useable facility is well over $12,000 per year, 5. Rental income does not cover the annual cost of operating the building, 6.There are well over $50,000 of repairs that need to be made to the existing building to preserve its character and keep the building safe to use.
Here are a couple of assumptions; 1. The private “financing” of the pavilion will need to be paid back? 2. Those payments may add as much as $6000 to the “operating” costs of the Community Center? 3. Continued deterioration of the building could cause the County to declare the building unsafe or an eyesore that needs to be removed?, 4.None of the citizens expressing their concerns have “volunteered” to put together a plan and a program to raise the approximately $50,000 need to keep the County from declaring the building unfit for use and to continue to provide monies for the continued operation of the Clarklake Community Center?
As my boss once said;”Don’t give me your concerns. Give me your solutions!”
Everyone in this community is invited to attend a Clarklake Community Center Board meeting. If you attend and would like to express your concerns about how the Board is managing the Community Center . . . Be prepare to put your money, mind and hands to work to help the Community Center Board.
My boss also said; “Nothing is difficult for those who don’t have to do it.”
Well said Mr. Reed! Sometimes, some people cannot see the forest through the trees!
Question for Walter Reed, I know the Clarklake Spirit Foundation has available for review the financial statements of the foundation along with all of the organizations under the Clarklake Spirit Foundations umbrella. Would it be possible to see the Community Center Foundation financial status. Knowing that the Community Center chose to separate itself from the Clarklake Spirit Foundation and truly in need of repair. If the Community Center board would ( as you say come up with a positive solution) Put together a plan and submit it to this great community. Showing all the repairs needed as well as materials needed. ( by a professional engineer or Architect) show the community a detailed road map on haw to accomplish along with current financial situation they are in. I was in attendance at all the original county park board meetings along with committee meetings before ,during and after the move . Giving up on the community to support the Center and Give it to any Government entity is a mistake. As Mr . Reed and Mr. Kuzminski suggest ? Please put a plan of need and action together and submit to this great community. At that point if the community does not want to support then do what u must.
Well said by all. When I first read the announcement I was surprised it was even being considered. This “camels nose into the tent” approach could only work for the county, not the community. Public private partnerships work when the parties serve approximately equal constituencies, not when one must satisfy ten times as many. Those who love Clark Lake have always risen to the challenges presented. Physical and financial plans for all of these challenges would not be beyond the imagination and resources of the Lake community.
Having spent a lifetime in and around the tourist business, and having served on a Florida Planning and zoning Board, I can assure you that giving away the property at lark Lake will have lasting negative results. Clark Lake is special. Folks that didn’t live there cannot appreciate it. Fond memories of growing up at Clark Lake fostered the creation of the center, and the motivation generated by the Clark Lake lifestyle was worthy of preserving it. Thanks for the report Flip.
Thank you Flip for all you do and have done for our community. Clark Lake was my first home being born July of 1957. Life took me away for a few years during college. I was lucky enough to return home in the spring of 1995 when my house up the hill from the Point was finished in the spring.
I have asked and received your advice for so many things, I thank you for your enduring strength and countless hours you have given and continue to give to our community. I am with you 100%. Thank you for taking the time to write this heartfelt letter. Please let me know how not only me help, but I speak for David Nichols also.
As you know my parents have both passed, they left behind four daughters that love Clark Lake! My sister Gail was actually born here in the old cottage at 1446 Eagle Point Rd.
My two sisters Gail and Lynne now own my parents cottage as well as some land south of Eagle Point road. Most of you know my little sister Elise Bentley Fish now lives on the North side of the lake. We four girls are long time Clark Lake lovers. We are all with you!
Thank you so much Flip, well said!
Exponent headline: Clark Lake to get new pavilion in County Park. So is it a done deal?
Oh wait! There is now a great community interest in how the Clark Lake Community Center Board controls and manages the operation and maintenance of the Graziani cottage. And it looks like everyone has a better idea.
Here are some questions for those of you that have a better idea:
1. What does it cost to rent the Clark Lake Community Center?
2. Who “owns” the park?
3. Who maintains the park?
4. What are the County Park regulations on alcohol in the park?
5. What are the County Park regulations on excessive noise in the park?
6. What does the current lease agreement with the County say about both?
7. What is the current Township zoning of the County Park?
8. Has the County tried to gain ownership of the Community Center before this year?
9. Do you think that the County will ever give up ownership of the oldest park in the County?
In order to get the answers to those questions, I recommend that you attend one of the Community Center Board meetings.
It is clear that several people in the community know what they DON’T WANT the Community Center Board to do in their attempts to maintain this beautiful and historic piece of Clark’s Lake’s past.
However, I suggest that before you try to impose your wishes on the Community Center Board, you establish what you DO WANT the Community Center to BE?
• Is it just a pretty building setting on a hill overlooking the lake that can be used for parties of 25?
• Is it a historic building that should be our community museum and used for social functions?
• Is it a commercial, public rental that should be improved and expanded to increase revenues?
• Should the community “tax” Clark Lake homeowners to provide funds for the center?
So, because I believe that you shouldn’t cite problems without providing at least one solution here is my somewhat out in left field recommendation;
Have the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation buy them out. The price is the $50,000 (or a more professional estimate) needed to make the necessary repairs on the Graziani cottage. No promises! The money should be immediately available to start making the necessary repairs when the transfer occurs. Start the fund raising now!
The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation can either “hire’ the current Board or put a new team in place.
(Although I doubt that you can find a more dedicated team than the current Board, but based on the comments I read, there seems to be a large pool of more experienced folks available?)
Your turn! Send ideas on how we should proceed, not complaints.