Dave Smith?s roots at Lake Geode reach back over 80 years. In 1937 his grandfather worked to help it become a state park and now Smith is helping to keep that vision for the next generation. His goal now is to bring the park back to its former glory, beginning with restoring the concession stand and boat house.
The Friends of Lake Geode is a nonprofit group whose goal is to help increase awareness, appreciation and enhancement in the park.
Currently the building is in a state of disrepair, but Smith sees the historic value and is fighting to restore it. The DNR is working on a water quality restoration project and could not afford the repairs required, so a demolition date was set. ?When I heard they wanted to tear it down, I went up to them at that meeting and said we can?t have that.? he recounted.
Smith then contacted his group, Friends of Lake Geode, to form a plan to save the building. The organization is a resurrection of a previous group his parents were involved in, which was loosely organized and eventually disbanned. ?It just didn?t go as far as they wanted it to,? he said.
In 2016, Smith was approached by Park Manager Ulf Konig who asked if he would take over the group. Smith agreed. When he signed on, he was unaware of the park?s project list and the potential for the boat house to be torn down, until he attended a board meeting. ?That?s when I sprang into action and started talking to people,? he said.
The group is comprised of volunteers who work together to organize events to bring publicity to the park and help bring it back to its former glory.
To complete the restorations necessary, the project will cost an estimated $135,000. To help raise funds, the group is hosting a family fun day on Saturday, June 23.
The day will begin at 8 a.m. with a 5K and 10K with the option of the 10K being a ruck race. Running the ruck race will require carrying 35 pounds of canned goods in a backpack, which are to be donated after the event. Games, food and entertainment also will be provided.
Smith is hoping that through this event, they can raise some of the money necessary to restore the building. ?I?ve got a pretty long history with Geode,? he said. ?I have a real love for the park and a real desire to see it continue and see it grow and see it get back to where it used to be.?
The original plan for the park was the work of Smith?s grandfather, Ed. He had the vision for the park and helped bring it to fruition. When the idea for the park began to form, he was asked to join the board and jumped at the chance. In 1937 he became the development chairman and stayed in that position until the park?s dedication in 1951.
Smith hopes that with the help of his group, he can keep his grandfather?s hard work alive. ?It?s just the thing of keeping it going so the next generation can be proud of it,? he said. ?It just needs a little help from our friends.?
For more information, to sign up for the run or to donate, visit: www.friendsofgeode.org.