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Lake Carl Blackwell beach

Beach highlights new changes at LCB

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Media Contact: Shannon Rigsby | Public Information Officer | 405-744-9081 | shannon.rigsby@okstate.edu

Stillwater might be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to the beach.

Lake Carl Blackwell (LCB) Manager Brian Brinker started 12 years ago and said that he’s fortunate because the lake found him and offered him an opportunity to do something he’s passionate about. 

In that time, Brinker and his staff have worked diligently to improve the functionality of LCB and every aspect they can get their hands on — including a 12-year plan coming to fruition. The long-term master plan includes a new office space, beach and several other large projects aimed to improve the perception of LCB within the community and offer additional opportunities for visitors to enjoy their time in Payne County. 

“This is all a part of our long-term plan, we know where we are right now,” said Steve Buzzard, manager of business operations at LCB. “And we also know where we’d like to be in five, 10 or 20 years and the beach is part of that master plan.”

The beach is located at Ski Point and will feature tables in the sand equipped with umbrellas and charcoal grills, setting the vibe for visitors. You’re in Stillwater, but feel like you’re in Miami — not the one in Ottawa County, either. 

Oklahoma State’s men’s and women’s basketball programs started wearing the alternate N7 Nike uniforms in 2015 to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. The same teal used in the uniforms will be a staple for the color scheme at the beach. 

“There will be alternating orange and teal tables with umbrellas.” Brinker said.“We’re trying to make people feel like they’re actually at the beach.”

OSU purchased roughly 1,250 tons of sand worth of sand from Stillwater Sand and Gravel, which is around 92 truck loads. One truck holds approximately 13.5 tons of sand. Research led them to Masonry Sand, which is coarse and if you look closely enough at the sand, you can see the individual pebbles which are better suited for beaches. 

Before sand can be dumped, the designated area must be prepped. That includes clearing out weeds, digging a minimum of three inches deep and properly laying plastic to stretch nearly 500 feet are some of the integral completed tasks that allowed this project to manifest. 

Dumping the sand is one thing, but maintaining it and keeping the sand in one place is another. 

“I learned pretty quickly why no one else has a sand beach,” Brinker said. “It’s pretty difficult to keep sand in place. I was losing it up from the wind blowing it up the land, down to the water with a torrential rain and it washes into the lake. There’s more to building a beach than most would think.” 

Effectively executing any business plan requires funding throughout the process. Though LCB falls under OSU’s jurisdiction, the ability to fund a project of this size was made possible with the assistance of the community. 

A large portion of the funds came from the lake itself. 

“We’re self-funded out here,” Brinker said. “I tell people when they see a project at LCB like the new office or beach, that it was all made possible with camping fees and $5 permits. It takes a lot of permits to buy that much sand.”

A new office space features a large meeting room and is in a centralized location, allowing for easier access. The pre-built, double-wide structure also deploys a full kitchen, air conditioning and heaters. The old office is now a rentable bunkhouse that houses up to 16 people. 

Staffers at LCB have enjoyed working out of the new location since Jan 1. 

“It brought morale up on the staff. It’s like a house, we took the master bedroom and created a conference room with a big screen TV and the ability to handle audio and video communications.” Brinker said. “We can have meetings and train our staff properly. We used to do that in a hot, little shack with an old computer, we’re uptown now.” 

Safety is always a concern. Buoys are in place up to 100 yards from shore. The Beach is ringed with buoys and safety ropes with floating buoys to properly mark the swimming only areas. 

“We put buoys out there to prevent boats from intruding,” Buzzard said. “Swimmers and boats in the water together don’t mix.”

Restrooms will be added later to accommodate visitors. Maintaining the beach will include the current rate of sand plus the delivery fees. Other projects included in the long-term plan are: amphitheater, interactive nature trail, storage facilities for year-long renters, an event center and signage along State Highway 51. 

The nature trail hopes to serve as a potential recruiting tool to prospective students. 

“We want the interactive nature trails to connect with current OSU research on ecology, wildlife and vegetation.” Buzzard said. “Our goal is to have an interactive walking trail and every so often, there is a station where people can stop and the station informs them of what they’re looking at.”

The Student Union Activities Board partnered with LCB to put together a welcoming event during the first week of school. Beach Night at the lake is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 26, from 3-9 p.m. Swimming, snow cones, music and volleyball (if you bring your own ball) will be available. Kayaks and golf carts will be available for rent at the convenience store. Students that present their student ID at the park entrance booth will get in for free. 

Located eight miles from campus, Buzzard and Brinker envision the lake becoming more of a pillar not just for OSU or Stillwater, but much larger. 

“I’m not sure people in town have a true understanding of just how good the lake can be,” Buzzard said. “We want to bring attention to the lake and the beach and open opportunities to partner with the City of Stillwater, Visit Stillwater and other local organizations.”

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