From an early publication we read a recipe for happiness….
Take an 800-acre lake... Garnish with an 18-hole golf course and Clubhouse... Add 14 miles of sand beaches... Add acres of trees and flowers... Add 2 Pans, 3 Bulldozers, 4 Pickups... Sprinkle in deer, beaver, squirrels, fish, birds, woodchuck, etc.... Mix in 25 miles of roads... Measure 5,000 acres (and growing)... Stir in tile drains, grass, parks, a pro-shop, tennis courts, swim pool, boats... Sprinkle in 60 horses... Add a huge dam... Now you toss in the main ingredient, PEOPLE!
….and here it is- Lake Isabella Paradise Pie
Mix the business savvy of two brothers Golden, and Nephi Grigg and the dream of Leo Gatehouse and you build a development of some 4500 acres 800 of which have been developed into a lake, located in the heart of the property.
Golden and Nephi Griggs began their business life as teens selling produce door to door. They eventually had their own farm, then a dairy, a restaurant, an appliance store, an insurance and real estate business and a fresh produce business. One of their largest produce consumers, the Oregon based Bridgeford Company went bankrupt. In 1951 the brothers bought the company at the sheriff’s auction and entered the fledgling frozen food industry. After buying a food processing plant and eventually renaming it Ore-Ida Potato Products, Inc. and in the late 1950’s expanding into 4 states including Michigan they sold it to H. J. Heinz Company.
Looking around for another venture Golden and Nephi plunged in again. This time into land development. Not a regular land development but a project of monumental size that required the damming of a river to make an 800-acre lake. The dam, whether it is still, was the largest man made dam in Michigan. The project was to be a recreational complex extraordinaire, the queen of Inland lakes.
The original corporation, the Lake Isabella Corporation (LIC ), was incorporated December 1, 1966. There have been a number of individuals involved in the creation of Lake Isabella as we know it today; some are familiar names and some not. Beside Gatehouse, early names Peake, McClintic, Dutcher, Stacey, Losey, Bowerman, and Ruddell, might be familiar, so might Shoemaker, Torgerson, Serum, Damitio.
In 1969, the Lake Isabella Property Owners Association was organized and the Articles of Incorporation were filed and signed by Arlen D. Beck, Jerry A. Chittenden, H.E. Serum and Otis E. Smith. Also appointed was the first Board of Directors- Arlen D. Beck, Robert Deckard, Ken Torgeson, Fred Arnamen, and Forrest Amstutz. The Association could now formally act as one voice for members when talking with developers, townships and others. In 1972, the Association explored the possibility of forming a Village, the time was not right. In 1992 the possibility of establishing a Village once again began to be explored cumulating in the 1998 chartering of the (home rule) Village of Lake Isabella.
Historically it is worth noting that the September 1989 L.I.P.O.A. Newsletter reported, among other things that in 1982, the Lake Isabella Corporation (LIC) filed for bankruptcy. "In 1987, the Bankruptcy judge allowed the sale of Lake Isabella Corporation's assets to Lake Isabella Development, Inc. LIDI) a corporation set up by two of the same officers who were running the Lake Isabella Corporation. Lake Isabella Development, Inc., in 1989, sold the Golf Course to three individuals, and also sold the remainder of the assets purchased from Bankruptcy to two individuals on a land contract. These two individuals then formed another Corporation, called "Venture I Development" and then deeded the assets in their contract to Venture I. We have since learned that one of the same officers of Lake Isabella Corporation and Lake Isabella Development, Inc. also has some stock interest in Venture I Development…. Many problems have arisen due to these transactions".
A review of the past gives us an insight as to why L.I.P.O.A. members and other persons owning land at Lake Isabella feel passionately about protecting the beauty and ambiance of the area. Looking at the past to help develop the future gives us insight as to why persons such Bill Dunham, Jerry Gaudette, Ed spayd, Ken Torgerson, Kathy McGee, Tom DeBoer, Jackie Adkins, Becky Thornhill and many others spent so many hours, days, and weeks working to enhance and compliment the efforts of the L.I.P.O.A. by creating the Village of Lake Isabella. This public body allows the capture of monies that enable improvement in infrastructure such as roads and establish official zoning procedures, it allows more effective ways to deal with two different townships for things such as bringing residential gas to the area. To review it is important to keep in mind that the Village was formed, not to supersede or negate the L.I.P.O.A. but rather to enhance the area through ways the L.I.P.O.A. did not have at its disposal. To protect the privacy of our lake, the natural beauty and feeling of one with nature while yet providing creature comforts in an orderly manner for all, the residents, the L.I.P.O.A., the Village, the housing and land developers must work and plan together. We have the opportunity and more important the responsibility to avoid opportunistic development and the polluting of the area with excessive noise, light, and visual symbols of the "city".
The L.I.P.O.A. bylaws provide the mission of the organization and stipulate the operational procedures. The Association properties provide for relaxing and recreational opportunities, they allow us to maintain the limited access to the lake and provide the land for launching and docking sites for members. In addition the Association provides for orderly maintenance and use of the facilities under its control. In an effort to best serve its membership the L.I.P.O.A. meets periodically with Village representatives to foster and maintain positive relationships of mutually interests and concern.