Lake Martin

The Lake Martin Homeowners and Boat Owners follow with great interest the efforts of Alexander City and Dadeville to expand their cities to best serve the residents, provide new businesses and jobs and to keep their cities moving upward. The success of these efforts will be greatly appreciated, not only by residents within the city limits, but also by the thousands of Lake Martin fulltime and part-time residents.

We have watched the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce for each town to encourage the revitalization of their Main Street businesses. Some businesses have thrived while others have struggled or disappeared. When these efforts started several years ago, HOBO officers were invited to attend several meetings with consultants and city groups to become more acquainted with the plans. The most glaring omission that we noticed at these meetings was the absence of any inclusion of lake population in the consultants’ studies, plans or presentations. It seemed that the Earth stopped at the city limits.

The point to be made here is that any effort to build up, modernize and improve any city must include an asset as huge as the fulltime residents of Lake Martin. With approximately 7,500 homes on the lake – some 2,500 of which are occupied by fulltime homeowners – one could easily predict the positive financial impact of the lake community.   

Tallapoosa County enjoys a unique benefit from our lake. According to Tallapoosa County authorities, about 44 percent of all property tax revenue for the entire county is collected from lakefront property.  Part of the generated property taxes are allotted to the local schools, and very few of the lakefront homeowners have school-aged children, so this is a great benefit for the county and cities. Except for Baldwin County on the Gulf, probably no other rural Alabama county enjoys such a tax haven.

Not only does our area benefit financially from the lake, but also, most of the fulltime homeowners on the lake are highly educated, skilled and motivated retirees who are willing and able to assist the cities to grow and improve. And they will volunteer their services when asked.  

Many residents on the lake have lived here for more than a decade and plan to be here the rest of their lives. What services do our cities offer to encourage the thousands of retirees to come to our cities and invest time and money in Dadeville or Alexander City? That is the question that needs to be addressed by the cities and the Chambers of Commerce.  

An interesting situation is developing in the area. People working in the Auburn/Opelika area are buying homes in the Dadeville area because the cost of off-lake housing here is much less expensive than in Auburn. But will our school systems meet the criteria necessary to meet the demands of young educated families?

There are many variables that must come together to save and grow any city. One variable for our area is the decrease in visits to the lake by the 5,000 part-time owners who enjoy coming to their lake houses about four or five months of the year but disappear during cold weather. How does a local business survive the down period? How does a city keep these folks coming? How do we replace them? Many college towns, beach towns and ski towns have the same problem; how do they survive?

Will a resort hotel solve these issues? Development of a well-planned resort certainly would be an asset to the area if it attracts the right clientele maintains the proper relaxed atmosphere and offers year-round activities. Will our cities benefit from this resort? If they develop activities and services that attract these resort visitors to enjoy while at the resort, yes, cities will benefit.  

Boating Safety Law

Efforts are underway to develop a boating safety law that will increase safety on all waters in Alabama. Several years ago, a similar bill was introduced in the Legislature but was defeated because it would have demanded no wake in many creeks and smaller streams. Hopefully, we will be able to get a bill passed to help make our lake safer while reducing the damage to shoreline improvements, seawalls, docks, boat houses, boats and even swimmers.

More information will be provided, as it is available, on the HOBO website: lakemartinhobos.com.

Jesse Cunningham is president of Lake Martin Homeowners and Boat Owners. To learn more, visit lakemartinhobos.com.