Beach needs donations for renovation

Local News

PENFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The only beach in Champaign County is nearing the end of it’s lifespan and the public is being asked to help.

The Champaign County Forest Preserve is looking for $250,000 to renovate Willow Pond at Middlefork River Forest Preserve. Officials say the water in the man-made pond has been receding for years. Sand or gravel veins beneath could be the cause.

At this point, the water is 15 feet further down the beach than it should be. The water level at the buoys will only come up to your ankles. On top of that, they have had to close the pond multiple times for testing positive for E. coli. As someone who learned to swim in the pond, Site Superintendent Matt Kuntz says he can relate to people wanting things to get better.

“I know exactly what they’re talking about,” says Kuntz. “That the pond was full and enjoyable every day throughout the summers for their kids and families. That’s what a personal mission of mine is, is to get that culture back.”

The plan for restoring the pond includes draining the current water, removing the island, adding a clay liner, and then refilling it. That would give it another 40-year life.

“It would be great to where we can get the local kids and local communities back out to the swimming beach,” says Kuntz.

The Forest Preserve District has already committed $50,000 to the plans. Now they need crowd-funding to help with the rest. Kuntz says the cost will only go up with each year.

The link to contribute can be found on the Champaign County Forest Preserve site.

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