Lakesiders Participate in Community Forums and Q&A Sessions

Posted on August 07, 2014

The second of two planned Com­munity Forums, addressing recom­mendations made from the Accom­modations Task Force to the Lakeside Chautauqua Board of Directors, took place in Orchestra Hall on August 2.

With nearly every seat occupied, participants listened to an extensive one and a half hour-long presentation from the task force and staff, followed by an hour-long interactive Q&A ses­sion.

While there were plenty of new homeowners and guests in atten­dance, the event drew back many from the first forum, held in July, that were seeking more information on the proposed project and its financial and cultural considerations.

The Accommodations Task Force was created in the fall of 2011 and has spent nearly three years developing its recommendations to the full board.

The task force has retained profes­sional hospitality industry, legal, tax and marketing consulting services as part of its due diligence phase and short- and long-term strategy devel­opment, initially focused on hotel ac­commodations, especially related to the historic Hotel Lakeside.

Following an opening prayer by the Rev. Dr. Ned Dewire, Lakeside Chautauqua director of Religious Life & Church Outreach, Dr. Dale Kno­bel, Lakeside Chautauqua Board of Directors chair, began the meeting by reviewing the objective of the forum, discussing board assumptions related to hotel accommodations, articulating board process and acknowledging what the board was hearing from the community since the first forum.

Some questions and concerns raised by Lakesiders, among others, include:

  • Where is the project now?
  • What are the next steps?
  • Will a beverage policy in the ho­tel change the culture? How will it be managed?
  • Does the board need to slow down the process?
  • How will the project be financed?
  • How will state and federal his­toric preservation tax credits be used?
  • What are the potential risks for homeowners and Lakeside Chautau­qua?

Randy Snow, chair of the Accom­modations Task Force, then spoke about the board’s strategic goals re­lated to the project, desired project attributes and why the board believes it is vitally important to address the hotel properties, particularly the Ho­tel Lakeside.

Kevin Sibbring, Lakeside Chau­tauqua president and CEO, and Dan Dudley, CFO, provided attendees with a review of the current situation, including local, regional and national occupancy data highlighting Lake­side’s abnormally low occupancy lev­els.

Considered guest services were underscored and a detailed explana­tion of the project stages was present­ed, shedding new light on how much work still needs to be completed be­fore any decision is reached by the board.

Additionally, potential funding sources were presented, including how historic preservation tax credits would subsidize more than $3 million of the project costs.

Lastly, a description of the target markets for Lakeside’s hotel prop­erties was provided, as a year-round operating Hotel Lakeside is being contemplated.

Many of the new questions raised during the Community Forum will eventually be integrated into the existing Frequent­ly Asked Questions (FAQ) document. Download the Community Forum PowerPoint presentation.

Also, the Hotel Lakeside was recently featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Read the article, "Hotel Lakeside at a crossroads: Community debates large-scale renovation of historic inn, sale of alcohol," written by Susan Glaser.

There is still considerable work ahead for the Lakeside Chautauqua board and staff, but the organization fully intends to keep all stakeholders informed as the process continues to unfold. Lakeside appreciates the feed­back received.