‘Embrace community, invest local, appreciate nature and live elevated,’ Lake Elsinore mayor says

Mayor Bob Magee drives his extreme vehicle into Pins & Pockets’ main ballroom for the Lake Elsinore State of the City address, Sept. 20. Paul Bandong photo

Bright headlights and squealing tires announced the arrival of Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee as he made a grand entrance into the large dining hall at Pins & Pockets, Wednesday, Sept. 20, driving a custom dune buggy and golf cart hybrid. He was accompanied by 1st District County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, Murrieta Councilman Randon Lane and Wildomar Mayor Pro Tem Ben Benoit. The four officials had just been seen in a video presentation getting into the same vehicle on their way to the Lake Elsinore State of the City event.

“Welcome to the Action Sports Capital of the World!” Magee said as he hustled onto the stage.

He went on to chronicle the legacy of the city, starting with 1920s Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who also starred as Tarzan in movies. The 1920s and 30s also saw powerboat racing on the lake. When the lake went dry in the 1950s, hang gliders, sailplane enthusiasts and parachutists came from all over the world to experience the “Elsinore Effect.” The National Soaring Competition was held at Skylark Airport in 1954.

Lake Elsinore became the epicenter of Motocross racing in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The “Mushman” annual motocross endurance race is named after actor and race driver Steve McQueen, who raced under the name Harvey Mushman.

Freestyle Motocross originated in Lake Elsinore in the 1980s and 90s with locals Jeremy McGrath, Brian Deegan and Mike Metzger.

World Bungee also helped put the city on the map in 1991. ESPN’s 1997 X Games included Lake Elsinore as one of four venues.

The Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park opened in 1999. In 2009, the redesigned and expanded park welcomed the inaugural Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series.

Mike Fry set a national jet boat speed record of 221 mph on the lake, in 2011.

Robby Gordon began testing and auditioning drivers in 2012 for the Stadium Super Truck Series, a format that now follows the Indy Car Series to street courses throughout North America.

Next, Magee described Lake Elsinore as it is now with a population of 60,000 and average age of 30.5 years. The city boasts a 5.9 percent unemployment rate and average household income of $72,000.

Elsinore has 18 parks, one under construction and another in planning, including two skate parks, four dog parks, one BMX track and the first fitness trail opening at Serenity Park.

The campground and recreation area at La Laguna Resort and Boat Launch was first built 50 years ago. The current renovations include six fully furnished yurts with custom-made decks and Airstream trailers available for rent year round. Current projects include adding sewer, water and electrical hookups to each campsite and repaving all interior roadways. The resort will have a visitor’s center, pool, snack bars and specially created outdoor activity centers, as well as RV storage and dock space.

The Storm Stadium upgrade features new seating, new concessions, a new outdoor bar next to the Diamond Club and repaving lots A and B.

“This is the best minor league ballpark in the entire nation,” Magee said. “This commitment of public sector dollars is surpassed by huge private investment in active recreational opportunities throughout the valley.”

Magee mentioned the numerous campgrounds, Links at Summerly, Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, Skydive Elsinore, Lake Elsinore Soaring Club, bowling at Pins & Pockets, the Lake Elsinore Hotel & Casino and returning to the streets, the 49th annual Lake Elsinore Grand Prix.

“It has been a long complex and calculated course,” Magee said. “From the days of near economic insolvency to today’s well-oiled machine, this valley is now running on all cylinders, and we are poised to do big things.”

Sales tax revenues earn $10.23 million, property tax values hover at $5.3 billion and the economic uncertainty reserve sits at $8 million; all interests project all-time highs for 2018.

Public safety is the top priority with half of the General Fund allocated to police, fire and animal control services. The wide range of highly specialized resources includes cars, trucks, bikes, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, boats, mounted posse and K9 corps.

The city is investing in infrastructure including a road paving program, adding a third lane to Railroad Canyon Road, improving Canyon Estates drive, extending Camino del Norte to Main Street and reclaiming jurisdiction over state Route 74.

Residential developments include Canyon Hills, the city’s first master-planned community; a five-developer agreement for Tuscany Hills; six new neighborhoods at Summerly; and infill developments Cottage Lane, McKenna Court, Trellis and Terracina and Alberhill Ranch.

“Retail attraction has become a contact sport. We have assembled a strong and skilled economic development team that has been landing businesses – retail giants and individually owned franchises – like many anglers land fish,” Magee said. “Thirty years ago, we had a McDonald’s and one traffic signal. Today, we are an economic player with a locally grown and educated workforce and entrepreneurs willing to work hard and take a chance on this very special place.”

Downtown district improvements include the explosion of restaurants on Main Street, updated Cultural Center, pavement of a new parking facility, remodel of the senior center, improvements to the community center and the remodel of City Hall.

“We have also seen a spike in industrial demand and several new buildings have been completed this past year, including the Warm Springs Business Park.” Magee said.

He said that the mining tradition and industry is strong in Lake Elsinore.

“We continue to harvest the natural materials that first brought settlers to this valley,” he said.

He cited progress by Pac Clay on their reclamation plan and plans by Werner Corporation to close down the south section of their Nichols Road Mine. A new royalty agreement allows the city to share in the mining prosperity.

Magee praised the growing community pride as evidenced by the Clean Extreme events, now in their eighth year. He also noted the contributions of philanthropic groups throughout the valley that shape the spirit of the community as well as the commitment of Studio 395 to provide arts and culture to the community and their management of the Lakeland Village Community Center.

“Education is a key element in the health and growth of a community,” Magee said.

The Lake Elsinore Unified School District is the largest single employer and serves 22,000 students in three cities. They recently passed a $105 million bond measure to improve facilities, upgrade aging infrastructure and invest in technology.

“They are building our future leaders and the results speak for themselves,” Magee said.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, Councilman Steve Manos and several city staff members are district graduates.

Lastly, Magee addressed the future of Lake Elsinore: responding to the environmental challenges of the lake, viable land use options, especially for the East Lake back basin, six future interchanges and maintaining the vision of the city.

Magee ended by challenging residents to “Get out there Lake Elsinore – Embrace Community, Invest Local, Appreciate Nature and Live Elevated!”

“My parents taught me that life is not a spectator’s sport,” Magee said. “We’ve got even better days ahead, and I’m asking you to join me and become a part of our history and embrace the legend that is Lake Elsinore.”

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