Carterville Beach May Reopen as Day Use Area

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By Evie Allen
By Andy Shofstall

CARTERVILLE -- A former recreational area in Williamson County could see new life. There's talk of reopening the old Carterville Beach as day use area. It's still in the preliminary stages.

It's located south of Carterville, off of Division Street, on the shore of Crab Orchard Lake.  The beach closed more than 15 years ago.

"I remember going with my mom and my brother. We had such a good time. My uncle taught me how to swim out there," said Creal Springs resident Sally Ward.

Trees now cover the walkways and parking lot, a far cry from what Ward remembers as a kid.     

"I remember taking my own son there. It was still open then. And we had just the best time," she said.

Officials with the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge have been looking to revitalize the area for some time now.

Carterville Mayor Brad Robinson said refuge officials approached the city looking for support. With a unanimous vote, the city council agreed to help.  

"Our law enforcement would be able to assist conservation police in occasional patrols of the area to ensure safety," explained Robinson.
 
He says the city is also planning to help with gate patrol and general maintenance.
 
"We thought it would be good for the city of Carterville, good for the refuge and good for the region," he added.
 
The idea is to reopen as a recreational area during the daytime.
 
Ward said she would like to see spots for activities, "where they could play volleyball and just have a little park out there for the kids."
    
Robinson remarked the city and refuge still have to access the area, and cleanup will be a big job.
 
Carbondale resident Liz Shill believes it will be worth it.
 
"It will be good for the area because other people will want to come if it's safe and a pretty place to be at," said Shill.
 
The city plans to draw up a letter of commitment to the refuge. No timeframe has been given for plans to move forward.
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