Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

August 30, 2013

American Obstacle's plans to expand have some concerned

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

KINMUNDY — Proposed additions to a three-year-old business in Kinmundy have some local residents considering the future impact on the community.

American Obstacle, an outdoor adventure park owned by Curt and Lisa Clough of Effingham, opened in 2010 with ziplines, team building opportunities, climbing walls and other activities. Lisa Clough said the plan is to expand the course, incorporating additional ziplines and activities which would eventually surround Kinmundy Lake. Plans also include a reception hall to host gatherings. Further plans for the next three years include bringing shops and other businesses to the area near the course.

“We’re wanting to have more opportunities for people to spend more time here and also to spend the night,” Lisa Clough said. “We’re not talking about adding lodging ourself, but someone else can. We would like to offer more to customers so that they can stay longer and possibly overnight.”

A town meeting was held Thursday night to discuss residents’ concerns as to how the business could help the community

“We’re all here, because we all care about Kinmundy,” said city council member Curt Jones. “I know there’s been a lot of talk going around town.”

Much of the talk focuses on a lease of the lake to American Obstacle. Lacking incentives to bring businesses to the community, the city council signed a lease in which the city receives 3 percent of American Obstacle’s gross profits. However, the lease does not require a minimum payment.

Some residents expressed concerns about how the impact of a private owner of the lake could affect the community.

Jones said leasing the lake has saved Kinmundy from a long standing financial hardship, but it may be possible a more profitable deal for the city could be made when the five-year lease ends.

“We can renegotiate the lease,” he said. “I’m not saying we did a perfect job on it the first time.”

One of the other concerns is making sure visitors to American Obstacle are going to be able to stick around and visit other local businesses. Because of the location of the business, just off Illinois 37, visitors may not be going through Kinmundy or purchasing things from other local businesses.

“I think the council needs to find a way to help these businesses,” said Keith Brimberry, of Kinmundy. “There has to be a way to bring people downtown. We can’t just throw them out there.”

Other residents said the opportunity to bring economic growth to Kinmundy is invaluable.

“I travel all around central Illinois, and I’m amazed at the number of people who’ve seen his ad,” said Kinmundy Fire Chief Kevin Day. “This is a golden opportunity.”

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or at jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.