As construction on a on the northwestern shore of Lake Elsinore continues, city officials have put out the welcome mat for other development at the water’s edge.
And hopes are high that the lake will see some added amenities in the months and years to come.
“Essentially, a 3,000-acre park is what we have here,” said City Manager Bob Brady. “We have tremendous recreational and development opportunities.”
The new 11.5-acre boat launch facility is expected to open in June 2012. It replaces the long-idle sunken boat ramp in the Lake Elsinore Campground and will feature a six-lane lane boat ramp, staging area, vehicle and boat trailer parking lot with 270 spaces, restroom building with eight stalls, entry kiosk, two 400-foot long floating breakwater/dock systems, a lighted and landscaped picnic area and fish-cleaning station.
Project funding comes from various sources, including redevelopment money, grants and bonds.
Recreation on and around the lake already exists. Fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, skydiving, camping, picnicking, and extreme water sports competitions are just some of the current activities.
But the lake has been including dry-ups and massive fish die-offs. These events impacted the local economy and tarnished Lake Elsinore’s reputation as a premier hot spot.
In recent years, however, the city, in partnership with the county and local water authorities, has been able to manage lake health. Pat Kilroy, director of the city's Lake and Aquatic Resources Department, explained that significant resources and technology have been invested to manage water level, water quality, and aquatic life.
With lake health better under control, the city is now in a position to take advantage of improvements and development opportunities around the largest fresh-water body in Southern California, Brady and other officials say.
While they are quick to point out that any development must be balanced with residents’ concerns and environmental considerations, they say Lake Elsinore -- perhaps more than ever before -- has opportunity to become a recreational destination once again.
Lake Elsinore Mayor Brian Tisdale said he is willing to work with everyone who comes forward with money and solid development plans. He explained the new boat launch is designed to offer lake amenities, but it’s also a project that could spur additional development in the area. An RV park for visitors and a marina with recreation-based businesses, restaurants and shops are just some of the possibilities for the open space around the new boat launch.
“It just takes money,” Tisdale said.
Plans -- and hopefully money -- have already been brought forward to the city to build a new wakeboard park on the lake.
At the Inlet Channel near the levee, In April, Lake Elsinore City Council gave an ok to California Cable Parks operators to develop a recreational area that would see several 28-feet-tall metal towers in the Channel, with cabling running between the towers for skiing, and the installation of wakeboarding structures.
The project is now in the environmental review phase, but Kilroy said the city is optimistic and the developer is gearing up for a summer 2012 opening if all moves ahead.
Although city officials can only directly control what happens inside their boundaries, Tisdale said he and Brady have been working closely with Supervisor Bob Buster on ways to partner with the county for improvements in Lakeland Village as well.
The unincorporated area along the lake’s western shore is The city wants Lakeland Village improvements because many people – especially out-of-towners who make the trek over the Ortega – aren’t aware that most of the blighted Grand Avenue stretch is outside city limits, Tisdale said.
“They associate it with Lake Elsinore, and it’s not,” he said.
Although Brady said the city’s primary concern is Lake Elsinore, the big picture is the entire shoreline.
Lake Elsinore Councilman Peter Weber said he is optimistic, especially with the new boat launch facility opening next year.
“I feel confident,” he said of future development around the lake. “This [the boat launch project] is proceeding for a lot of good reasons.”