One of Geist Reservoir’s venerable institutions finds itself in a crosswind. The Indianapolis Sailing Club (ISC) is engaged in discussions about the future of its clubhouse. The passage of time and changing expectations about best uses for the structure have taken a toll. Thus, at least three proposals for re-inventing the clubhouse are under consideration: 1) update the 1950s-era facility and build an addition to the existing structure; 2) replace the clubhouse with a new building; or 3) funnel the club’s money and energy toward developing a new generation of sailors and club members. “You get 300 opinions on what we should do,” said ISC Commodore Paul Kirkpatrick.
A key argument for either new construction or a comprehensive updating is the need to bring the facility up to modern standards. For example, the clubhouse currently has no air conditioning. Construction proponents say such improvements would, among other advantages, increase the facility’s usage for business meetings and the like. “Now, the clubhouse is basically unused Monday through Friday,” said Kirkpatrick. “We are one of Indy’s best-kept secrets; and when trying to recruit new members, a modern-day facility would be helpful.”
Founded in 1955, ISC currently has about 300 family members – 200 of which are boat owners who use the 13-acre site overlooking the lake as home base for recreational and race sailing. In addition to the many social activities, adult and youth sailing lessons are offered at the club; and the occasional presence of groups of children is part of the argument for an expansion design that would include a walk-out basement. “In the event of storms, kids and adults need an appropriate shelter,” Kirkpatrick said.
A different faction would prefer the club use funds to buy more kid boats for junior sailing programs, with an eye toward growing future membership. “That’s a good argument, too – I respect others’ opinions,” said Kirkpatrick. “[Discussion] got pretty heated around here the first of the year. My approach has been to let things settle down. We’re doing a membership survey to help with the decision.”
The club is in the enviable position of carrying no debt and has a consistent income stream from AT&T’s lease of a small portion of land where a cellphone tower now stands. With interest rates low and money in the bank, Kirkpatrick said conditions are right for doing something. “One idea is to keep the building’s look and just make it bigger,” he said. “Others say scrap it and build a million-dollar facility.” However, the thought of a mortgage scares some of the membership.
One thing is certain. The first annual Geist Triathlon (July 27) will utilize ISC to stage the swimming leg of the triathlon as participants take to the water in the ISC cove.
Information about the Geist Triathlon is available at www.geisttri.com. Sailing Club info is at www.indianapolissailing.org.