Well folks, we have come full circle on the Crossroads articles and for those of you who have stuck with me on this venture, I appreciate it; as well as your thoughts and comments. We have covered some things over the last four months pertaining to the lake itself and where we stand, so it’s time to think a little bit about our future. One thing in particular that we have learned is that dues and assessments alone are not going to support the lake itself. This lake was designed to operate in a perfect world scenario, where every lot available for private ownership is owned and each owner responsibly puts forth their financial commitment to the association. If that were happening, we would not even be having this discussion. This is not a perfect world, which is why we have passionate annual meetings and issues to address. It is time to move forward and give serious consideration and action to utilizing assets that we have to generate some revenue and to help offset assessment increases. The bottom line is the party is over, and we have to pay the bills.
As I indicated when I ran for a board position, I am concerned about “over growing” the lake and many of you that I have talked with share that concern. We have seen evidence recently of that with increased boat traffic, shoreline erosion, dock damage and traffic on our roads. And there have been increased demands on office, maintenance and safety personnel and equipment. There are differing opinions on how we manage the growth of the lake, which is good, and it is my hope that we can tackle these problems in a judicious manner. That being said, we have a battle to fight and not everyone will be happy with the manner in which we move forward. However, it is imperative that we move forward.
I also suggested that we give serious consideration to opening up some of our assets to the “outside world.” Believe me, I am not particularly fond of having to do it. However, as we learned over the past few articles, we must be particularly careful in increases of assessments, given the fact we are vulnerable to “out pricing” ourselves to part-time ownership – those owners that provide the bulk of the assessments. Talk about a double-edged sword. I am also particularly sensitive in exploiting our community areas and I am in no way advocating that. What I am advocating, however, is what I consider our “common area,” the area at the main entrance to the lake, the clubhouse and office area. For my definition purposes, this includes that area roughly from the north side of the marina to the south side of Main Street where housing begins from the office parking lot. It is more or less the center of activity for the lake.
Clubhouse: First, I believe we need to take the step to open up our clubhouse for outside rentals. It is a fine building (albeit a little dated – working on that) and one of our premier assets. So here are some fun facts. For November 2017 the clubhouse generated $150 in revenue. In that same month, we spent $601.99 in maintenance and utilities (not counting propane). Now I have never been exposed to the “new math” being taught today, but in my book that represents a loss. While we may not incur maintenance costs on a monthly basis, utility costs are always there. In 2016, the clubhouse upper level was rented 20 times, or slightly less than twice a month. The lower level was rented 12 times, or once per month. There is absolutely no guarantee that if we open it up to outside rentals that bookings will fly in and save the day. However, by not opening it up, we are guaranteed the same or perhaps even worse results than we already have. Opening up to outside rentals would include making it clear that renters were restricted to the “common area” of the lake and do not have privileges to utilize other lake assets such as water, beaches or community areas. While weekends would be the most anticipated rentals, perhaps we should also target the weekdays – such as marketing for business “training facilities/opportunities” where a business desiring a training/retreat session could get away from the office and enjoy the beauty of the lake setting. Food and drink vendors could be solicited and listed as “recommended providers” by the association, with the vendor paying a nominal fee to the association for the listing. If rentals increase, perhaps the clubhouse itself could be self-sustaining budget wise.
Lakeside Shelters: We have all seen the four lakeside shelters located at beach 1 directly behind the clubhouse. How many times have you seen them utilized? I have been a resident of the lake for 10 years and can probably count on one hand how many times I have seen them used. They are, however, a nice place where one could have a family picnic or get-together for a day. Right now they are in fair condition with some serious wood rot going on and in desperate need of a paint job. However, most repairs would be cosmetic. So would you pay $50 for an 8-hour rental on one of those shelters? It’s a real possibility to entertain. And yes, being that close to the water, those renters would more than likely want to swim. Personally, I don’t have a problem with them using the beach swimming area as a part of their rental. It would be made clear in the rental agreement that ONLY the designated swimming area can be utilized. And, in addition to that, renter behavior and the behavior of their guests would be subject to review by safety personnel monitoring. If safety found their actions to be offensive or disruptive, the safety personnel would have the right to immediately terminate the use of facilities by the renter/party and they would be escorted from the property, no refunds. I believe the physical appearance of all four shelters could be improved for less than $800 with some volunteers doing the painting.
Wedding Venue: When I spoke in March, I mentioned that my son was getting married the following month, and I inferred that weddings were expensive, and it is a fast growing racket … I mean business. Fast forward eight months and now I am going to be the father of the bride next year. I am not yet acting like Steve Martin; however, I feel his pain. Lake Viking, while not necessarily suited for a big wedding, can easily fill the niche for a small to medium-sized wedding, up to roughly 150 people or so. Naturally I have been interested in the venues being sought out for “the big day,” and it is unbelievable how far in advance these places are booked – and what they charge. One facility offers a venue for approximately $5,000. That is to book the day and the building. Period. Nothing else. Another venue was a mere $12,000 for about the same. These were 10-hour rentals. Then you start talking tables, chairs, food, drinks, flowers, a bottle of Jack Daniels for the father of the bride, and the list goes on and on. One venue that just opened in August of 2017 is booked every weekend through November of 2018. The demand is definitely there. We at Lake Viking are fortunate to have a beautiful sweeping vista in “the terrace” where the proposed restaurant was to go, which makes a fantastic area for a wedding with the lake as a backdrop. Combined with a clubhouse rental for a 10-hour period, it could potentially rent for anywhere from $2,800 to $3,000 or more. The expense to the association would be minimal, such as cutting the grass in preparation for an event, and erecting an arbor (nice white maintenance-free arbor at Menards is $200), and perhaps the purchase of some decent looking trash receptacles, with trash pickup the following day.
My daughter, ever the visionary, also identified “the circle drive” down by the safety patrol dock as a potential area for a second venue – although smaller than the terrace. It would require some landscaping and pavement smoothing. However, it could be deferred until revenue to support the rehab of the area is generated from the terrace venue. Imagine two venues in the same weekend. Another opportunity would be available to solicit area businesses and vendors to be listed as “preferred providers” by the association in the venue packet for a nominal fee – tent and chair rentals, along with food and beverage, D.J. and licensed bartenders, etc. And as with the clubhouse rental, again, use of the lake itself would be restricted to members only.
These in my mind anyway are some easily manageable opportunities to supplement the budget and help restore the crumbling infrastructure that I am adamant about. As I have said in past articles, we have some major expenditures headed our way, and regardless, we are going to have to deal with them. We can either skyrocket assessments, which in turn will have an adverse effect on lot ownership, or we wisely utilize what we have to help us out. You will have the opportunity in the coming months to hear even more about a huge issue of sediment storage from the dredge that you may not have considered. The bottom line is – we are full up and no place to pile it anymore. It’s that simple. We have maintenance and safety vehicles that have outlived their normal service life. Safety watercraft that have done things they were never designed to do, and are showing the results of that. We have been fortunate with mild winters in the past, to where some road maintenance could be deferred. But we can’t do that anymore. In addition to normal maintenance, we have approximately five LARGE road tubes that have managed to hold together for 50 years and are now in rapid decline and need replacing. Don’t believe me? Drive through the dip by community area 9. We have a dam traffic issue to address, and a restroom facility at beach 2 in need of repairs and upgrading. I know it is somewhat depressing, but as Joe Friday would say, “It’s just the facts.”
On a happier note I would like to close wishing each of my Lake Viking family a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years. May the peace of the season be yours, and I look forward to working with each of you in the coming year. As always, comments and positive suggestions are welcome at [email protected].