Mission - The Mission of the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center is to provide the Lake Crystal area and surrounding communities with a family-oriented facility that will encourage people of all ages to improve their health and physical fitness through the use and enjoyment of a variety of recreational activities.
Description – The Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center (LCARC) is an amazing multi-functional recreation and community center serving Blue Earth County, Nicollet County and beyond. The LCARC features 24/7 access to a fully-equipped cardio/machine weight/free weight fitness center, 2 full basketball/volleyball/multi-use courts, elevated walking track, and locker rooms. The LCARC’s signature feature is a 150,000-gallon swimming pool with 6 lanes of lap swim, a zero-depth entry area and children’s area and slide, plus a larger water-slide, and a spa. The LCARC provides programming ranging from Senior events (Lunch and Learn Series, Senior Aerobics, Health Education) to our highly-regarded Fit Kids program for school-aged children. Finally, the LCARC hosts many events in the two community rooms and gym space from family celebrations to vendor fairs and craft shows.
History - In January 1996, Helen and Eldon Jones met with a few local citizens to tell them about their dream of a combination swimming pool and fitness center to be built in Lake Crystal. Such a facility would be paid for with private funds, including a $1 million gift from the Jones family-if the community could match that amount over a period of five years.
It did not take the community long to decide to accept the challenge, and even enlarge the scope of the project to include a multipurpose gymnasium. Crystal Co-op employee Tony Jacobs suggested the slogan "Take the Plunge" and people dove right in to help. Dean Meixell generously donated 4.8 acres of land on the southwest edge of Lake Crystal for the building site. The Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center Board purchased an additional 1.2 acres from Dean to make a total of six acres, which would allow for adequate parking and for possible future expansions.
The architectural firm DLR Group, from Bloomington, MN, was hired to design the facility. A logo designed by Vernon Center artist Robert Williams was adopted, and a marketing firm was retained to assist the fundraising committee by creating literature, training volunteers in the difficult task of asking for money and setting goals for the five-year timetable set by the Joneses.
The Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center project was a major financial challenge. In 1998 the fundraising committee determined that matching the Jones challenge gift would get the project halfway to completion, but additional funding would also be necessary. A plan was devised to approach the Minnesota State Legislature for a grant, using the theme of "Recreation for Rural Kids." Letters were written to legislators, and groups of local supporters attended legislative hearings. At one of the hearings Laura Deal, age 9, spoke about metro area kids having recreation centers vs. rural kids not having them.
These efforts paid off when the LCARC received a $1.5 million Minnesota state grant. The grant, however, required the City of Lake Crystal to own the Recreation Center. Thus began another chapter in the life of the LCARC. Legal documents were prepared and recorded that deeded the LCARC land and building project to the city to clear the way to receive the state grant. Another governmental unit, Blue Earth County, pledged $14,000 to the LCARC to be put into an endowment fund. The earnings from this fund may be allocated as needed for future operations. This fund will grow as additional donors make contributions through estates, wills and other instruments. A groundbreaking ceremony in June 1999 commenced construction, culminating in a beautiful facility, completed in September 2000. Building Committee Co-chairman Ron Held deserves many thanks for untold hours dedicated to monitoring the construction to make sure the LCARC's best interests were maintained.