It’s a new year so let’s start dreaming big, really big! Indian Lake is a top Midwest lake destination with 1.5 million visitors a year and a lot to offer. But, if you dig a little deeper, put on your thinking cap and start thinking big, a lot of great potential begins to surface. The sky’s actually the limit.
The great thing about Indian Lake and “mining” for its future potential is that the communities surrounding Indian Lake and their leaders have built one of the strongest infrastructures for development and management of a tourism lake. This greatly increases the odds of turning big dreams into actual reality at Indian Lake versus many other lake destinations with big dreams that never pan out.
Non-profit groups like the Indian Lake Development Corporation, the Indian Lake Area Historical Society, the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureaus, the Indian Lake Watershed Project, the Lakeview Business Group, Indian Lake State Park and local city and village governments and private leaders have worked wonders at the lake with tourism development, capital improvement infrastructure projects and lake management and water quality control. Additionally, many generous private donors and benefactors have provided funds and services to benefit the Indian Lake community over the years.
So, let’s look at some attainable goals that will just require some creative funding, clever re-tooling, strategic re-marketing and some careful fine tuning of what Indian Lake is already good at. We really don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.
Wish #1 Amish Tourist/Retail Village
Amish tourism is big in Ohio and the good news is that there is already an Amish community near Indian Lake who frequent the lake to sell their goods to visitors and tourists.
The plan here would be to re-tool some of the vacant and non-operating storefronts and even current operating downtown Lakeview storefronts to an Amish theme. Through possible village funding, economic incentives, grants, sponsorships and/or donor investments the many storefronts and retail opportunities could be made available to those wanting to sell Amish themed goods and services. Attractive, reduced or even free rent and incentives could make this really happen in a very short time period.
Creating an Amish village of sorts and marketing it properly could attract hundreds if not thousands of tourist to the lake every week and even in the off season to spend money in the local economy.
Wish #2 Beachfront Indoor Water Park Resort Hotel
This is the way to go in order to attract a high-end lodging opportunity for Indian Lake. The lake is bustling in the boating and summer seasons but lacks an off-season attraction to bring tourists to the lake. This has unfortunately discouraged attracting a national or regional hotel or resort from coming to the lake.
An indoor water park creates its own winter attraction and “demand” therefore creating its own customer base in the colder off seasons. A Great Wolf Lodge or Kalahari Resort is probably not demographically feasible since both already have locations in Ohio. A smaller mid-size hotel/water park would be perfect though for the lake. Being the only hotel in the warmer and summer seasons it would clearly be fully booked and since it would be an indoor water park it should fill up quickly in the colder months also.
Let’s go ahead and put this resort on the beach, give it pearly white sand while we’re at it, giving the whole thing a Panama City, Florida feel.
Wish #3 Beautiful White Sandy Beaches
Everyone loves white sandy beaches and the feel of being in Florida or somewhere tropical. We can create our own tropical paradise here at Indian Lake practically by just changing the type of sand we use.
It could be like going to Panama City or the tropics without the sharks, jellyfish and other dangerous sea critters that are in oceans. Add some palm trees (real or artificial), a few cabanas , tiki huts and the next thing you know a developer may just be tempted to build that hotel or indoor water park resort right on one of those pearly white beaches.
Indian Lake is in a unique position to invest in adding white sand, tiki huts and maybe some palm trees to its beaches because it has had the foresight to manage its water quality with the Indian Lake Watershed Project and stellar dredge efforts from the ILDC over the years. Unlike many other lakes who have water quality problems, Indian Lake can incur very little risk investing in its pristine beaches.
Yes, Indian Lake already has two excellent very popular public beaches with great parking, facilities and pavilions. Large concerts and festivities regularly occur at Old Field Beach. Fox Island Beach is a fantastic smaller island beach with great parking, pavilions and picnic areas. But, with a little creativity and some effort they can become “phenomenal” beaches which will be the envy of all other lakes in the USA.
Bringing in pearly white Panama City type sand to the two public beaches at Indian could change the whole tourism dynamic of the lake. A whole new advertising campaign could be developed to attract visitors, hotels and resorts to the lake. Sugar White Sandy beaches at an inland public lake are very rare in the Midwest and even the whole USA. In fact with an exhaustive search this reporter could not find one such inland beach in all of the Midwest and even the continental USA.
In order to pay for such a beach upgrade, community leaders could explore grant opportunities, government funding, local donors, benefactors, corporate sponsors and nonprofit fund raising.
So, there you have it. Let’s get the conversations started and action plans put in place by the Indian Lake’s movers and shakers and maybe we can make Indian Lake even greater than it already is.
It’s takes only a dream to get something big started.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.