Repairs being made to state parks, beginning in Pope County - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Repairs being made to state parks, beginning in Pope County

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POPE COUNTY (WSIL) -- State parks in southern Illinois are seeing much needed improvements after emergency or additional funding from the state. 

The pool at Dixon Springs State Park is one place that benefited. The public pool is open and a popular spot this summer, but site superintendent Chris McGinness says it almost didn't open.

"This is our huge improvement. The one (slide) that was here before was literally falling apart. The metal was fatigued and flaking and when we took it apart, it literally almost fell apart as we were taking it down," said McGinness.

The pool and slide were in such disrepair that attendance dropped by half. In February, community members called Senator Dale Fowler asking for help securing emergency funding to repair the pool. 

"There was a total of $175,00 investment in this pool and this park to make sure the people of southern Illinois and surrounding states would be able to come and utilize the pool," said Senator Fowler. 

Now attendance is climbing again, and at times, they've had to turn people away because the pool was full. 

Senator Fowler hopes soon, other southern Illinois attractions will see a boost in attendance because tourism has suffered for too long. 

"Due to budgetary restraints, a lot of state parks, especially in my district, have been left behind. They haven't had the deferred maintenance that was necessary," said Senator Fowler. 

The declining maintenance took a toll on the Golconda Marina. Several feet of silt from the river is keeping larger boats from stopping in. 

"A boat had come in and bought 700 gallons of fuel and after they put the fuel on board, they were sitting on bottom and couldn't move," said McGinness. 

The state has purchased a dredger with plans to remove the silt soon. Just talks of improvements has people coming back. 

McGinness says in the last month, nearly 40 boat owners have rented slips. 

"The quicker we can get this up and running, the quicker we can get this repaired, the better it is for the economy," said McGinness. 

Senator Dale Fowler helped secure additional funding for other state parks like Cave-in-Rock and Fort Massac.

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