I wrote a story for Saturday’s edition about Vision 2000, the local planning initiative that preceded Focus 2020.
As I dug through all of the old Vision 2000 documents that I could find in preparation for writing the story, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Vision 2000 committee members recommended pushing for a state park near Mitchell.
Back in 2007, when I knew nothing of that earlier Vision 2000 recommendation, I wrote a story that said Mitchell was the farthest of any of the state’s 10 largest cities from a state park. It was something that had been bugging me for quite a while, because I love to kayak, hike and camp. It doesn’t seem right that I or anybody else in a city as big as Mitchell should have to drive so far to get to a state park or recreation area (Lake Vermillion Recreation Area, at about 45 miles distant, is the closest to Mitchell).
Vision 2000’s recommendation and my story had the same impact, which is to say none at all. I’m puzzled as to why there hasn’t been a bigger push to put a state park near Mitchell. Jim Beddow, who was the leader of Vision 2000, feels the same way. "I think it was a very meritorious idea," he told me. Still, it’s rarely if ever discussed these days and has not been proposed by Focus 2020.
There are lots of areas along the James River that would be great locations for a state park. As noted by Vision 2000 members, having a state park near Mitchell might make the city more of a weekend destination for people from the region. It might also encourage more out-of-state RVers to stay overnight, rather than just stopping for an hour at the Corn Palace.
The objection that always comes up is that the city already has a great campground at Lake Mitchell, and a state park would be repetitive. That’s something that would have to be ironed out, for sure, but I don’t think it should be a deal-breaker.
Am I the only one who thinks this idea deserves consideration?