By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
The Lake Gregory Company, composed of local residents, was approved last week by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to manage Lake Gregory, which the county owns, for the next 15 years.
Nathan Godwin, one of the managers, welcomed the opportunity to answer some of the community’s concerns.
First, he was excited that, on a cool Friday afternoon, he saw three families having a wonderful time at the lake. One family had just caught a fish, another family was enjoying throwing snowballs, while another family was just playing along the shore with others just walking and using the trails. “I enjoy seeing families enjoying this wonderful lake and park and it’s our plan to encourage and enable that,” Godwin said.
“Lake Gregory is different than the county’s other regional parks because it’s surrounded by town and used by locals and visitors alike. The lake is part of what drew me to this community. I grew up in Alabama around woods and lakes. The Marines brought me to California, where afterwards I became a science teacher. The Thousand Pines Science Camp for public schools is partially what attracted me to Crestline,” he said.
About 95 percent of the residents responding to the announcement that a locally formed group was going to manage Lake Gregory were ecstatic. Godwin is confident the plans they have submitted to the county will enable the Lake Gregory Company to reopen both the north and south beaches, the waterslide and the zero-depth water park in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“The county already has estimates and we are prepared to get the repairs started as soon as we can,” Godwin assured the community.
Repairing the snack bar building is on the list and they hope to expand its use. “The beautiful San Moritz Lodge will be again rented for weddings on a non-discriminatory basis. It is the most beautiful location on the mountain to celebrate.” After the roof is repaired, the company will be renting out the lodge for community gatherings, meetings and other purposes. The lodge will continue to be used by the seniors for their grab-and-go lunches and communal luncheons when group gatherings are again permitted.
As a corporation, they will be paying all the appropriate taxes and be non-discriminatory in their hiring practices, in rentals and all other aspects at the county facility. “We plan to hire as many locals as possible. We’ll be looking for honesty, integrity and excellent skills in our employees.
Employment applications will be available at www.lakegregory.com when the website is ready next week. The new toll-free phone number, (833) 360-LAKE (5253), will be operational in April,” Godwin added.
The first positions hired will be for their “Trails and Trash” crew, which will address all the maintenance and cleanup needed after a year of deferred maintenance resulting from COVID restrictions. More trash cans will be added to the trails with the hope the public will use them. They are already working with the current management for a smooth transition.
“We intend to have the farmer’s market returning and, when socially permitted, the concerts,” Godwin said. They are seeking a vendor with a liquor license and insurance for those and other events. When Corks & Hops is again permitted, they expect the lake will be a stop on the loop. By partnering with the county and the chamber of commerce, there will be many opportunities for locals to enjoy the park, and they intend to support past and new community events.
“We plan to immediately repair the problems at the dog park and the playground. Our first priorities will be maintenance and repairs, then adding small but important new items and activities. Then we will start with the new big picture items, which will improve the park, such as relocating the dog park to a larger location, adding a zip line and maybe another playground,” Godwin said. The campground, however, will not be operational this summer.
The new operator will be purchasing new docks, modern lightweight fishing boats, kayaks, stand-up boards, pedal boats and electric engine-powered boats, as neither gasoline engine boats, nor jet skis may be launched on the lake. They want to keep the noise and pollution from the lake, keeping it tranquil. Fishing will be a high priority activity with two trout stockings already scheduled for March.
“I have a family and realize costs can get too high,” said Godwin. “We are creating various family packages and annual passes for fishing, kayak launching, beach use and parking.” Launching personal durable inflatables, kayaks and float tubes will be permitted from the boathouse area. “We are required to have standardized regional park pricing, but we are seeking ways to reach out to the locals with special affordable packages, enabling families to use the lake frequently.”
Lake Gregory is the only regional park not fenced off from the community, an amenity that Godwin intends to maintain. The hiking trails are an essential part of the park and they will upgrade them. The educational nature trail lecterns installed by VOE Elementary School along the south shore trail is something the science teacher part of Godwin hopes the school will continue to maintain. “We’ve already spoken with them about that.
“A top priority is security, so we’ll add more cameras, lighting and personnel all around the park and at the skate park. We think those who plan to do bad things will not want to be in places that have security installed,” he noted.
During a community meeting to be scheduled soon, they’ll share their plans and listen to input and concerns from the community. Until then, e-mail any suggestions to the Lake Gregory Citizen Advisory Committee at [email protected].