History of the Bay Lake Improvement Association

For over five decades, the Bay Lake Improvement Association (BLIA) has maintained a coordinated approach to protecting Bay Lake and enhancing the Bay Lake experience for its residents and their descendants.

In 1970, Bob Erickson set out to form an association of Bay Lake property owners. He was motivated by the presence of red and brown algae clumps, a primary threat to Minnesota lakes at that time, and a belief that a coordinated collaboration involving property owners was vital for long-term preservation of Bay Lake. 

First Board Meeting

A first board meeting was held at the Twins Motor Lodge (or Hotel) on April 24,1970 that launched the following actions:

  1. They presented their vision at the kickoff meeting and a decision was made to form the Bay Lake Improvement Association (BLIA). Recruit the existing shoreline associations (Woodland Beach Association, etc.).
  2. Compile a list of Bay Lake property owners. Working with two other computer industry retirees (Howard Shekels, a Bay Lake resident and Pete Zimmer, a resident of Rush Lake who was in the process of establishing a similar association). A courthouse employee was hired to compile names and addresses from county records in her spare time. Computer time was leased, data entered to create a computerized mailing list. Although databases later became commonplace, this was both a novel idea and a time-consuming endeavor in 1970.
  3. Invite Bay Lake property owners to a kickoff meeting in the old Bay Lake schoolhouse. 

A Volunteer-driven organization

The lake was divided up geographically and residents were recruited to be “Beach Captains”. These early Beach Captains were important as they recruited members and facilitated communication. Board and committee meetings were scheduled, an annual membership meeting was held and a newsletter, “The Breezes” became the cornerstone of association communications. Strong member support and the enthusiasm and commitment of volunteers got the new association up and running.

The enthusiasm and commitment of volunteers, along with strong member support from its members, propelled the successful establishment of the association. 

Some of the first BLIA initiatives

Bringing People Together

The new association provided residents with the opportunity to bring Bay Lakers together. Annual summer and winter parties contributed to the feeling of community at Bay Lake. Events like Runtilla and Independence Day fireworks became traditions followed by the Amazing Race, Bay Lake Block Party, Trivia Night, Music on the Lake and New Year’s fireworks.

While certain challenges, such as safety and communications, have remained consistent over the years, others have evolved. Water quality efforts initially focused on upgrading septic systems and now includes identifying specific sources of pollution and taking proactive steps to correct them. Exotic species, not even on the radar screen when BLIA formed, now requires a tremendous amount of focus, work and financial support. Without the BLIA infrastructure and key volunteers, Eurasian Water Milfoil would likely have begun hindering lake activities decades ago.

A key step in the growth of the association was the development of BLIA’s Environmental Fund. Most proceeds from association activities are funded through donations to this fund.

Bay Lake 50 Volunteer Program

Bay Lakers have access to several community-building activities each year that help make our lake special. And volunteers are the heart and soul of making them happen.  In the spirit of community, a group of committed volunteers was assembled in 2022 to support the various events.