Listening. That is what the 25 men and women of the Lakeside Association Board of Directors expected to be doing this summer, and that is just what they experienced.
For those who have been reading the weekly Lakesider newspaper, following the Lakeside Chautauqua website, attending Lakeside Property Owners Association summer meetings or joining a Community Forum arranged by the Board, you know that we have been listening to input from Lakesiders on a report regarding Lakeside’s hotels, made by the Accommodations Task Force. The Task Force was created by the Board more than two years ago.
The charge from the Board to the Task Force was to develop proposals for making better use of the Hotel Lakeside and Fountain Inn in support of Lakeside’s mission, ensuring that Lakeside accommodations better meet the needs of today’s guests.
Both facilities historically have played a key role in offering transient accommodations, often to people experiencing Lakeside for the first time.
While not neglecting the Fountain Inn, the Task Force spent the greatest amount of its effort looking at ways to better utilize the iconic, historic Hotel Lakeside.
The Board asked the Task Force not to come up with a band-aide for a facility that, while beloved, has also been neglected, but to generate plans that address infrastructure strength and historic authenticity, as well as guests’ safety and comfort and enhance the probability that the hotel can, at the least, pay for its own renovation, operation and long-term maintenance.
As with any committee report, the Board of Directors had its own questions about the proposal, but the Board also believed that it would benefit from community responses to what, under any circumstances, is a big undertaking.
There is a hazard in this, because sharing anything that is still in process with a wider audience can create the impression that work is done and accepted.
However, it was worth taking the risk, because the ideas that have been shared by the Lakeside community have helped inform the Task Force and sharpen and refine the questions that Board of Directors’ members have about such a consequential report.
Last weekend, at its regular August meeting, the Board of Directors asked the Task Force to undertake substantial reworking and refining of its report.
Addressing accommodations issues at Lakeside is a marathon, not a sprint.
Since a first step in any-sized project related to the restoration and improvement of the Hotel Lakeside will involve pursuit of state and federal historic preservation tax credits, the Board unanimously approved a resolution, offered by Board member Mike Brown, president of the Lakeside Property Owners Association, that clarified that no application for any tax credits (and, consequently, no renovation construction contracts) will be made until the board formally votes for a fully-developed proposal, which, after due diligence, meets the original objectives of the Board for the hotel, is financially feasible for Lakeside, protects the interests of Lakesiders, and is attentive to the mission and lifestyle of Lakeside.
The Board believes that a great deal of work is left to be done before these conditions can be met.
The Board also continues to receive reports from other committees and working groups that it has created to help update Lakeside’s six-year-old Strategic Plan.
The groups are addressing such issues as buildings and grounds, traffic, parking and safety; programming in support of the four pillars of Chautauqua (religion, education, arts and recreation); outreach and demographic diversity; Chautauqua Pass admission fees and operations; and philanthropy and marketing.
The Board is pleased to share that revenue from Chautauqua Passes, hotel accommodations and philanthropy are all running ahead of the previous year at this point in the summer.
Attendance at Hoover Auditorium programs and other venues has been outstanding. The Board congratulates the Lakeside Chautauqua administration, staff, donors and volunteers for these great results.
Listening. The Lakeside Association Board of Directors is happy to have had the opportunity to listen, and we think that the way in which we address the future of Lakeside’s hotels – and many other items that fall under the responsibilities of the Board of Directors – will be improved by having listened to the stakeholders we serve.
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