Neighbors savor the lake effect
Irving: They share, care for, build camaraderie around cherished Vilbig
12:00 AM CDT on Friday, May 5, 2006
By MONTY MILLER JR. / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
On a quiet morning, a close-knit group of friends and neighbors gathers on the shores of Vilbig Lake in Irving to fulfill their duties as stewards of the lake. Some have donated their boat, some their truck and some just their precious time, but all have the same goal: to keep their private lakeside paradise clean and beautiful.
"It's about taking pride in where you live and taking ownership of it," longtime Vilbig Bass Club member Mark Grigsby said.
The lake functions as a 150-acre back yard to the 234 homes in the Irving Lake Association, the governing body over Vilbig Lake.
"By and large, the Bass Club is kind of the core of the [association] functions," Mr. Grigsby said.
From March through December, the club hosts one fishing tournament a month. Five are draw tournaments, in which anglers draw names from a jar to determine their fishing partner for the day. Club members rave about them because, they say, it gives them an opportunity to get to know their neighbors.
"It's definitely brought the development closer together," charter club member Tom Root said. "I mean, you spend five hours in a boat with a guy, and you get to know him."
The idea for the Vilbig Bass Club, established in 1993, grew out of a weekly Tuesday night poker game involving Mr. Root and some other association members.
"It's as much a social element as it is competition," Mr. Grigsby said.
Members say their neighbors become like a second family, considering all the cookouts and backyard barbecues throughout the year.
"The ILA and the water bring all these people together," club treasurer Jon Griffin said. "It's one of the really beautiful things about this lake."
Some of the more enthusiastic members even go on vacations together.
"Last year, we went on a Caribbean cruise for an entire week," Mr. Grigsby said. "I guess there were 17 or 18 people there."
Lake residents also help each other in times of need. The community recently rushed to the aid of a neighbor who suffered a heart attack.
"We had a three-day garage sale where everybody donated stuff that they could have sold to make money," club member Yo Maskarinec said. "But they gave it, and we raised over $9,000 for that man."
The association charges $50 in dues each year, and it's an additional $60 a year for the bass club members. But the association uses volunteers for nearly all lake maintenance. On a recent spring cleanup day, more than 50 residents collected 2,800 pounds of trash.
"It can be a challenge, especially after it rains," club member Steve Dillon said.
Monty Miller Jr. is a North Richland Hills-based freelance writer.