Sandusky Bay Pavilion ideas from a guy who drove around the lake

Jason Werling
Jul 22, 2013


I live in Sandusky. I play in Sandusky. I work in Sandusky. I love Sandusky.

Last month's drive around Lake Erie put a lot of things in perspective for me and our town on the lake.

To read Sharon Johnston's take on the pavilion property, click HERE

It's no big secret, I'm on the Recreation Board for the city. We meet, we plan, we make decisions and then we make suggestions for the city's recreation areas and programs. Earlier this week many residents and members of various organizations attended a meeting at Sandusky High School to voice suggestions on what should be done with the Sandusky Bay Pavilion waterfront property on Water Street. Many people voiced the opinion it should be kept a park and the public should have access to it. Probably a good choice since if the property was sold, the city would have to find comparable property in city limits to replace it.

We, as a city, have a six-acre waterfront property that is great for events, but has an old and broken wave pool on it.

So what should we do?

Fix the pool or build a new one — I would love to have a wave-action pool back in the city, I used to visit Surf's Up with my YMCA day camp all the way from Toledo. During our trip around the lake, my boys and I visited a similar pool at the Lake Erie Metropark in Michigan and we had a great time. The pool there was surrounded by a giant water slide, playgrounds and an education center. But Sandusky had a wave pool and it obviously didn't do well enough at the time so we have a hole in the ground and a potential hazard.

Build an education center — BGSU has expressed an interest in the property for providing a hands-on exhibit and research facility with specialization in areas pertaining to Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie. Not a bad idea and it has potential even if it wasn't located on the pavilion property. Our trip around the lake included museum and education center stops. We learned about each of the area's we visited during these stops.

Here's my pitch: Build a tower — during our trip around the lake, one waterfront city stood out. Erie, PA has a great waterfront with museums, marinas and public access to the water. The Presque Isle State Park was one of the highlights of the trip. The city of Erie celebrated their bicentennial in the mid 1990s and decided a tower should be built to commemorate their 200 years. Visitors to the 187-foot Bicentennial tower ascend to the top in an elevator and see panoramic views of the city, the lake, their bay and their state park. Visitors to a similar tower in Sandusky could see views of our city, the lake, our bay and Marblehead Peninsula and our amusement park Cedar Point. And I hear our city has a bicentennial coming up, 2018 isn't too far away. The footprint would use about the same area as the current closed pool.

But like most things in life, it costs money and my salary here at the Register won't cover the $2 million that built the Bicentennial Tower in Erie to build us our own in Sandusky.

So what do you think? Get involved and let those who make the decisions know how you feel. You live here, you play here, you work here and hopefully you love it here.



I do not disagree but I have to ask, don't you have to be a resident of the city, and not the township to be on one of the city's boards?

Myself, I believe that the property cannot remain under ownership and operation of the city to be successful. The City has proven that it is horrible at running businesses. The operations of whatever is developed there needs to go to an outside company. And no, that does not mean some LLC that a commissioner, former commissioner, or brother of a commissioner sets up the month beforehand. An experienced group needs to have control of it and operate it, whatever it maybe.

As for what "it" should be, who really knows. I do know one thing though, if you do not clean-up that area and this city it does not matter what you build there, it will not be successful. Last year we held a family reunion at Shoreline Park and I have to say I was ashamed of my city. So ashamed that this year we held it in a different town.

I guess in a perfect world, I would like to see that land be developed into a beach. A real beach. However, I am not sure if that is possible on the shore that you have there. In my mind I am picturing something like Nikelplate in Huron or the other city beach/park off of Williams.


Good comments and good thoughts, MrSandusky.

I could see a wave action pool combined with a beach and natural pool.

Ohio is not Arizona with its triple digit heat days and much longer warm months.

Some information to share:
$1.6 million was a lot of money back in 1980. Government has no idea how to run a business or make customers happy customers.
Big Surf (Arizona)


Great ideas Jason! Now how do you plan on paying for those improvements?

Jason Werling

MrSandusky- You are correct, you must be a city resident to be on the recreation board. I am a resident of the city.

Centauri- Thanks for the links, some provide more dialogue on the subject.

Train- As I mentioned above, I can't provided the financing, but I'm hoping enough ideas and a continued conversation on the subject will keep help get and keep the ball rolling.

I'll also post a couple e-mails I have received since yesterday's column and today's blog...


I thought that you moved off of Central and were neighbors with a friend of mine out on Taylor Road in Perkins Township?

Jason Werling

MrSandusky- If you'd like to discuss my address changes in the past ten years, please e-mail me at or call at 419.609.5850.

Jason Werling

Excerpts from a couple e-mails I received...

I think the wave pool can be fixed and operated safely with an additional kiddy pool and or activity pool. I have other ideas to go along with this such as pricing, events, etc. I agree that sandusky has great potential and I'm willing to help in any way I can. Thanks for you time. Have a great day.

I think your idea of a tower/monument is a good one and deserves consideration. Also, the timing is good to have it ready for Sandusky's bicentennial.
Now my thoughts are to make this a civic success not a government project. It will then be a source of pride and sense of accomplishment for the community (Erie County). The involvement of everyone from school children, to retirees, to businesses, to civic organizations all conducting fund raisers of all kinds collecting quarters to dollars. Engraved bricks $50 to $100 bucks each in the surrounding walkways, park benches $2000 each that family and friends could be memorialize themselves or others.
Of course some local businesses would want to be contributors and would be recognized in a tasteful way.
The key is the community works together to make it happen and not the local, state or federal government. Then there will be civic pride that can last and be past on to future generations.

Mr. D

Kind of sad The Space Spiral couldn't have been relocated somewhere in Sandusky. It was a Sandusky landmark.


I've always been mystified by the fact that smaller municipalities like Bellevue, Clyde, Norwalk can support public swimming pools but Sandusky can't. Who needs a wave action pool? Just a nice public pool would be fine.

T. A. Schwanger


I thoroughly enjoyed following the Werling Boy's trip around Lake Erie. Beautiful waterfronts and public access on the Canadian side of the lake. Communities like Windsor know how to develop their waterfront with the public in mind. We are considering offering the Commission free transportation to Windsor to observe first hand.

The Pavilion Master Plan issue was heatedly discussed at the City Commission meeting again this evening. Thank goodness Commissioners Grohe, Cole, Poole and Hamilton were able to muster up 4 votes to keep the ball rolling with the Ohio Trust for Public Lands regarding a Mater Plan for the site.

I'm not much for believing in conspiracy theories, but I'll make an exception in this case. There are always those who will try to undermine this type of project, in this case Commissioner Smith, holding out hope he can stall the Pavilion Master Plan long enough for a new commission to be elected and promote his plan for private development on the site in the name of Downtown Economic Development.


The location of the pool on the bayfront proved to be its reason for financial failure. Due to the cold bay water in May and June, the winds made the use of the pool nearly zero except the hottest days until the bay warmed up in mid-July and resulting economic loses closed the facility. The idea of the tower might be very successful if well planned and promoted. A community pool located to replace MacArthur Park would probably succeed because the cold bay breezes would not affect it.

T. A. Schwanger


There are many reasons why the pool closed including the reason you give.

Under the direction of the City Commission at the time, fees for admittance were constantly changed sometimes in mid-season, picnic baskets were banned and employee work hours at other parks were being charged to the Wave Action Pool artificially creating a loss in revenue.


The education center is overdue. Similar cities like Findlay and Lima have a host of educational opportunities. Findlay is doing quite well and even a slag pit like Lima has a variety of educational institutions that serve a wide range of needs.