Residents of Carter Lake celebrate new community center and library

The City of Carter Lake finally has what it's wanted for a long time -- a community center.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 4:28 PM CDT
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CARTER LAKE, Iowa (WOWT) - The Carter Lake Community Center just opened up in January -- a brand-new facility that’s been a long time coming.

“I would say it’s probably been 20+ years that city residents have wanted a community center,” said Carter Lake City Clerk Jackie Carl.

She says the city had been saving money from its hotel-motel tax for years, but couldn’t rake in enough money until the prairie flower bloomed in the city.

“The way it became doable is once the casino funds start coming in, we start putting those funds away also, and then we went out for bonding, because the bonds were so cheap, at that point it was a doable idea.”

Now the city is proud to show off its community center. The new renovations and construction came in right around $5 million.

Carter Lake's community center opened its doors in January -- and so far, it's been a hit with residents.

“We put in a high-school-size gym with a track, and we’ve moved the senior activities to our building so the seniors have a beautiful location. Then we have pickleball, three days a week in the gym.”

David Hansen is a pickleball athlete. He says the community center brings a lot to Carter Lake.

“Togetherness, interaction with people, I love it,” he said. “Getting a little older, you need some activity.”

There’s also a fitness center here, loaded with equipment.

The Carter Lake Library has also been made over.

“We got some new staff over there with great ideas, and it’s really become a really cute place over there.”

Shannon Putney is part of that new staff as the library director. She’s been on the job for about a year.

“I think the combination of the two, the library and the community center, being in one space gives the community the ability to do it all in one space,” Putney said. “You can do something physical, you can come to do something for your mind.”

Outside, the Carter Lake Community Center is still growing. They’re clearing a spot to add a splash pad and perhaps an amphitheater or outdoor sports courts. Jackie says this place has become a big part of the community.

“There wasn’t a place where people could just go sit and enjoy conversation. It’s been nice to have that camaraderie, and we’ve only been open since January.”

Carter Lake officials will get input from the community to help decide what to do with their outdoor space.