Stillwater News Press

October 2, 2012

Friends organization makes many plans for Lake McMurtry

John Filonow
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Some people may not have heard about it. Others haven’t noticed any difference. And that’s the way they want it.

Lake McMurtry Friends took over management of Lake McMurtry on Aug. 1.

Rachel Snyder, assistant park manager for Lake McMurtry Friends, said most people haven’t noticed a difference since the changeover. She said she had talks with some lake users who were worried about drastic changes, including the development of houses and commercialization.

“It’s quiet, it’s serene, it’s the way the patrons want it,” Snyder said.

Snyder said any changes would be positive, including plans to improve bike trails or possibly develop a nature center, which might include wildlife exhibits and classrooms.

Snyder said prices could change at some point, but there aren’t any plans to change them soon. The price for an annual permit has dropped for nonresidents, from $75 to $45, which is the same price for residents.

Snyder said the nonprofit plans to increase revenue by attracting more visitors rather than raising fees. She said she wants Oklahoma State University students to be excited about the lake.

Football games bring so much RV traffic that people sometimes must be turned away. She said more RV parking spaces are one of the ideas for lake improvement.

John McClenny, the city’s director of external services, said he has not heard any complaints about the management change. He said discussions were in progress prior to the formation of the Lake McMurtry Friends for possible construction at the lake, but they were more along the lines of cabins, not bulldozing trees to build houses. He said that issue is now in the hands of the nonprofit group.    

“Those discussions are out of the picture for the time being,” McClenny said.

McClenny said the city still owns the lake, but the management duties have been turned over to Lake McMurtry Friends.

The president of the Friends’ board of directors, Scott Stoodley, said in June he wanted to make the lake profitable.

He said the lake’s costs outpaced revenue by $275,000 annually.

Stoodley said in June the lake would get an initial subsidy of $250,000, with a plan to reduce the amount by $50,000 a year until no more subsidies are needed.   

In the contract between Lake McMurtry Friends and the city, the city made an initial payment of $62,500 to the organization on July 1.

Four quarterly payments of $62,500 would equal $250,000 for the year.

The contract caps subsidy payments to Lake McMurtry Friends at $62,500 per quarter for this fiscal year.

Snyder said plans to reduce the subsidy each year have not been finalized.

The contract requires the nonprofit submit quarterly reports “setting forth operating expenses, revenue and capital improvement expenditures to date.”

McClenny and Snyder said the relationship between the city and Lake McMurtry Friends has been positive and open.

“This is the beginning of something great and I hope it’s successful,” Snyder said.