It was cold Tuesday afternoon and a dusting of snow lined the shores of MacArthur Lake in southwest Great Bend. The only creatures using the sand pit-turned recreational area were a few ducks resting on and skimming off the frigid water’s surface.
But, as envisioned by the Great Bend Rotary Club, the body of water will become a much more popular attraction and an integral part of the city’s park system.
“We have plans to develop that lake,” club member Gary Burke told the City Council Monday night. “We have a lot of plans.”
Burke and several other Rotarians attended the council meeting. They asked for and received the city’s blessing to proceed with their efforts.
The council also approved changing the lake’s name to Rotary Lake.
As for the plan, “we are probably a little premature in bringing this to you,” Burke said. Outside of a broad outline of a multi-year, multi-phase project, the club doesn’t have a lot of details.
So far, they have secured a $1,500 Walmart Community Foundation Grant which covers the stocking of about 800 small- and large-mouth bass in the lake this spring. And, “we are looking for grants from several local foundations and the funds we raise will determine how of the project they can accomplish this year.”
Included in their basic plan is a picnic area with two tables on a concrete platform and handicap access, parking, portable bathrooms, easy access points to the water’s edge for fishing, and the removal of the dead trees and other debris. Wheatland Electric has also agreed to install a security light and run power to the site.
“Our intention is to upgrade this area so it is usable by Great Bend residents,” Burke said. “We are planning on this being an on-going service project for our club.”
Burke said they have already discussed this with city department heads who are supportive.
The fish already in the lake have been tested and the lake qualifies for free water testing by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. However, there have been no reported problems with toxic blue-green algae like has haunted other city lakes in the past.
The city’s part
The only city expense will be the $10 per month for the security light and the cost to have the portable bathrooms cleaned, Burke said.
“I like the idea of it,” Mayor Joe Andrasek said. “My dad and I would go fishing down there.”
“It sounds like a good idea,” Councilwoman Jolene Biggs said.
The project received unanimous approval.
The origins and the future
The late Bob Parrish, who was a Rotarian, was instrumental in the city’s acquisition of the lake in the 1960s, Burke said. The area actually includes two former sand pits which the club hopes to link together.
“We don’t know where this will lead,” Burke said. The city has looked at expanding its Sports Complex a short distance southeast of the lake, and perhaps both could be connected somehow and become part of a large recreational attraction.
Club members also have ideas for events at the site.