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State park campgrounds set to reopen

October 12, 2018

Daily Journal staff report

SPRINGFIELD — It appears a pair of Kankakee River State Park campgrounds that have been closed since 2015 will soon reopen.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced Kankakee River State Park will receive $1.9 million to reopen the Chippewa and Potawatomi campgrounds that have been idle the past three and four summers, respectively. The money is part of a $14 million package released to bring improvements to six state parks.

The 110-site Potawatomi campground closed before the 2015 season for planned improvements. The 98-unit Chippewa site closed after the 2015 season because of a failed water well.

The closing of the campgrounds is cited as a major reason why attendance at Kankakee River State Park has declined recently. That number hovered around 1.6 million visitors annually earlier in the decade.

State Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, has worked toward getting the campgrounds reopened. Late last month, she announced the money had been earmarked for the project.

“This is huge news for the many residents and Kankakee visitors who are understandably upset and outraged over the continued closure of the Kankakee State Park campgrounds,’’ Parkhurst said in a release issued at the time. “The park is the jewel in the crown of Kankakee County and reopening the Chippewa and Potawatomi campgrounds will restore our park to its former glory and grow the area.’’

The release said the campgrounds are expected to reopen in spring 2019.

The problems with the campgrounds were identified as early as 2012, when it was determined significant renovations were needed.

These improvements included demolishing and removing two waste water plants, replacing one treatment plant, and constructing a holding tank at Chippewa. At Potawatomi, plans call for remodeling and doubling the number of showers and toilets.

Other state parks that received funding include:

• Fort Massac State Park will receive $2.8 million to evaluate and stabilize the timber-framed replica fort and make other improvements.

• There is $1.8 million for Argyle Lake State Park in McDonough County will receive $1.8 million for dam and boat ramp improvements.

• Infrastructure will be updated at a cost of $468,000 at Mississippi Palisades State Park in Carroll County.

• The I & M Canal in Will and Grundy counties will get a $6.7 million DuPage River spillway upgrade.

• Facilities renovation is planned at Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area in Clinton County for $439,000.

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