Smith Mountain Lake Center’s ‘Grand Plan’ pushes forward

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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MONETA, Va. (WDBJ) - On a warm summer day, the activities at Smith Mountain Lake seem to be never ending.

“We want to encourage people that when you go to the lake, you go in the lake, water ski, wake board, fish, you’re sunburnt, but what else is there to do?” asked Vicki Gardner, the president of SML Center.

But the community surrounding the 32-square-mile manmade lake is missing something, something Gardner has been working on for years, and it revolves around one building.

“The building is amazing, it’s like the Taj Mahal, it has 40,000 square feet of space that can be broken up and utilized for just about anything,” said Gardner.

The Grand Home Furnishing building at Westlake Corner has sat empty for over 6 years. Just over six years ago in 2015, Gardner was in the hospital following a shooting at Bridgewater Marina. She received many personal donations.

“And people were sending money, I don’t know why, and I said ‘I don’t want that’ and then I said, ‘Ha! That can go into a fund for SML center,” recalled Gardner.

As of now the 12-member board for SML Center Inc., a fully incorporated 501 C3 nonprofit, has raised 25 percent of the needed funds to purchase the old outlet.

If purchased, the new inside will include a theater, space for children’s programming, and even retail ventures.

“There’s a lot of things at the lake that are dismissed because there’s no place to have it, no place that can hold a meeting for more than 200 people,” said Gardner.

Before the Grand Plan can continue to develop, monetary and physical support is still needed, but Gardner is hoping it the dream will soon be reality.

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