|5/19/2021 9:47:00 AM|
Blackhawk Lake preps for more upgrades, busy summer
By Levi Zimmerman
One of the few industries that has significantly grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is camping. As people became overwhelmed with the quarantines and confinement to their homes, more and more folks looked towards the outdoors.
Social distancing and mask wearing didn't need to be as strictly enforced, and families had a chance to enjoy solitude in nature.
In Iowa County, one of the spots where locals flock to in the warmer months is Blackhawk Lake Recreation Area.
Although it isn't a recognized state park, Blackhawk Lake has routinely drawn numbers that are similar to Governor Dodge and others.
After taking over as manager in November, Tom Michek has already taken initiative by upgrading Blackhawk.
Earlier this year, Michek and others at Blackhawk made a decision to rebuild a pier that wasn't in ideal shape.
"The wood was deteriorating, so we chose to put aluminum in there to support it better," said Michek.
The new and improved pier allows those who are unable to get around as well as others to have easier access to it.
Michek stated that although there is no ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standard for handicap accessible piers, he knew the structure had to be more stable.
In addition to the change from wood to aluminum, he decided to install a safety railing around the pier, and the feedback has been resounding.
"It's worked great; the people have loved it," he said.
Before taking over as manager, Michek was the assistant manager since 2012.
The decision was an easy one for Michek, who grew up on a farm that was purchased by the Blackhawk Lake Commission.
He has seen and heard just how much the rec area means to citizens of Iowa County.
"I believe in the upgrades that we've been doing, and I think that we can make it a better place for campers and outdoors people to be," Michek stated.
He went on to explain that no tax dollars go into Blackhawk, so it's completely self-sufficient.
Therefore, the money that Blackhawk generates stays there, and the rec area upgrades according to how it does financially.
In fact, 2020 was a historic year for Blackhawk.
"Last year was the best year that we have ever had at Blackhawk," Michek said.
He anticipates that this year will be even better than last, as folks have been eager to get outside after a long, cold Winter.
As for what's next for Blackhawk, Michek stated the long-range plan is to stay up to speed with the way the camping industry is evolving.
He mentioned that campers and RV's are getting bigger, therefore Blackhawk needs to improve camping sites and upgrade their electrical services.
Michek also mentioned that he has plans to add onto the restroom and shower facilities as well as a possible second dump station.
Accomplishing these goals isn't necessarily easy, however.
Iowa County holds easement to the property, and the Blackhawk Lake Commission operates the campground and lake area.
Michek explained that Blackhawk is one of very few rec areas that is run in such a way.
The first-year manager emphasized the importance of sustaining positive relationships with the entities that allow Blackhawk to operate.
The work that it takes to operate and upgrade Blackhawk is something that Michek embraces, as he strongly believes that it's one of the more important attractions in Iowa County.
He also wanted to recognize the other employees that have a hand in the success of Blackhawk by highlighting that without their efforts, it wouldn't be able to operate.
The goal of the rec area has consistently been to allow families to enjoy themselves and cultivate fond memories.
Michek expressed, "Blackhawk is a very important place to Iowa County and community members both financially and to enjoy themselves and make memories."
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