Friends of Atascadero Lake post new signage with more to come

ATASCADERO — On March 31, the Friends of Atascadero Lake announced the completion of the first sign to be positioned around the lake. The nonprofit hopes to place up to 10 more signs for the public property. Located near the bridge and playground at the Atascadero Lake Park, the sign gives some history, photos, and environmental information about the lake with a request to help keep the area clean.

Wife and husband team, Michelle and Jon Harms spearheaded the project. Members of FoAL since 2018, the team worked with the City of Atascadero, the Atascadero Historical Society, and residents to create the informative lake decoration. The Harms joined the organization shortly after moving to Central Coast from Las Vegas and bring a unique set of skills to the team. Jon works in the development of themed entertainment, and Michelle is a limnologist — a scientist who studies inland bodies of water. 

“Our main interest was to make sure that anyone who had a stake hold in the information or the location of the sign or a stake hold in the lake itself felt involved,” Michelle said.

The Historical Society provided some history of the lake, as well as photos of days gone by for the body of water. The sign also showcases a photo from each of the local “celebrity” photographers Rick Evans and James White, who are known for their prolific photography of Atascadero. Michelle said that she and Jon also utilized the talents of Public Works staff member Amanda Muthers to bring the artwork and information altogether. 

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Informational signage at Atascadero Lake Park. Photo by Nicholas Mattson

The sign also commemorates the dedication of FoAL for the betterment of the lake and fundraising efforts. During the annual Dancing with Our Stars fundraiser, the nimble-footed Karen Burish Wyke represented FoAL and garnered $8,000 with her dance moves. 

“Resourcing the sign company to have the signs made, working on the formatting, written material, interfacing with the City of Atascadero has been a huge job,” wrote Nancy Hair in a letter to FoAL members. “We also want to thank the City of Atascadero for the installation of the sign and Amanda, staffed at the City’s Public Works Department, who helped Jon and Michelle with graphics.”

FoAL continues to seek additional sponsors for the remaining nine signs. The nonprofit estimates each placard costs $2,600 and offers anyone who donates $2,000 will have the opportunity to have sponsorship or memorial information placed on the sign. Michelle said that preliminary work has started for the additional signs.

Michelle commended the nonprofit for the comprehensive approach Friends take with the preservation of the lake. 

“They’ve really taken on whatever aspect you can imagine in maintaining a body of water here in the middle of a community, to really caring for it,” Michelle said. “I mean, right down to being able to fundraise to pay for the electricity that mans the [aerating] pump, so they’ve taken even the infrastructure into consideration.” 

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