By Mike Harris
With the calendar saying we’re still in winter, and the first day of spring not until March 20, Memorial Day weekend seems very far away. But for the new management team at Lake Gregory, May 31 is looming like a time monster.
“It’s going to be a big job, but we should have everything open except weddings,” Steve Garcia, a senior management leader with the new Lake Gregory Community Recreation Co., told The Alpine Mountaineer.
There is so much that needs to be made ready, from a full range of new equipment to hiring personnel such as lifeguards, that three months to get everything ready seems like a daunting task.
“We can do it,” Garcia added.
While Lake Gregory Regional Park is one of nine regional parks owned by San Bernardino County, because of its rich and colorful history, Lake Gregory is the most accessible regional park for the public to enjoy.
Garcia said that policy will remain. Whereas the only way into the other regional parks is to pay a fee just to enter, at Lake Gregory, the walking trails, access to shoreline fishing and picnicking around the lake are totally free and accessible.
Where the public will have to pay a fee is during the traditional summer season, to enjoy such activities as lying on either of the two beaches, going swimming, playing in the new waterpark or renting boats.
Getting ready is where the clock is ticking.
All of the old equipment – such as boats, electric motors, life vests, buoys, fishing tackle, beach equipment such as lounge chairs, sun umbrellas, swim toys, standup paddleboards, the old waterpark play toys, and so much more – was carted away, sold for pennies on the dollar or even simply thrown away.
Everything will need to be replaced. Garcia said the new management company will either purchase items or contract with vendors for equipment.
But that opportunity will allow the new management company to try some new things, he added.
“For this Fourth of July and special events, we plan to have gondola boats with gondoliers on the lake,” Garcia said. “We plan to use the same company that operates gondola boats in Venice, Calif., to provide and operate them.”
Garcia said Lake Gregory Community Recreation Co. plans to bring electric Duffy boats to the lake and offer rides and tours.
There will be choices of watercraft, everything from kayaks to special fishing boats, for the public to rent as well.
And the Lake Gregory waterpark will return with all new equipment to play on.
He and his team also envision a multi-purpose field with a bandstand near the San Moritz Lodge, with performances at the bandstand for the public to enjoy.
“We will constantly be asking ourselves, how can we be of better service to the community,” he said.
Garcia also said that the boat docks, which were so badly damaged in previous winter storms, may be repairable, but management is prepared to bring in new docks, if needed.
In granting the new company a 15-year management agreement, with two five-year extensions, the county also provided a $1.5 million fund for repairs and new equipment.
Garcia said he has had experts tour the San Moritz Lodge, and said the issues at the historic lodge are not as bad as many make out.
“Most of the repair issues are manageable,” he added.
The new website, www.lakegregory.com, is now up and running and the public can take a peek there to see what features are in the works.
The biggest issue for many locals is the question of parking fees; Garcia said the new management company will have to follow county parking fee guidelines. But, he added, management is working on club membership ideas, “developing bundle packages that include parking, fishing and use of aquatic areas and waterslides, canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.”
Garcia said to think Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm where different pricing levels allow more time at the lake or accessing more features.
On the new website, for example, memberships will range from what they call value-priced “Mountain Local” and premium “SoCal’s Favorite” to VIP “The Whole Enchilada.”
There also will be deals to tap into. Garcia said they are trying to work with the county to offer hourly parking fees, up to $, which will allow someone to park for the entire day.
“We want to offer something for everyone,” he added.