SOUTH BELOIT—Fishing poles and boats were toted into South Beloit City Park Saturday—the first day in nearly three years the park has been open to the public.
The park had been closed since 2018 due to flooding. Because no one has been allowed to fish in Lake Victoria in the park for the past few years, fishermen flocked to the lake to cast their line and hook some plentiful fish.
Randy Kane of Machesney Park said there were 20 to 25 trailers toting boats into the park at 6 a.m., not counting the cars with kayaks on top of them.
He said he caught a few blue gills and four bass by noon using his preferred bait—nightcrawlers.
He was enjoying the sunny day and the park.
“I love this park,” he said. “It was sad when they shut it down.”
Just a few feet down the shoreline was the family of Lindsay Reed, who were also happy to be back in the park.
She said her son, Clayton, was especially happy to be back in the park, saying it was his favorite place to go.
Lindsay also has fond memories of the park from her junior high and high school days.
“I used to come here every Friday for the football games when I was in high school,” she recalled. “When I was in junior high we would play ball over on the baseball field.”
Saturday, she and her family came armed with fishing poles to try their luck at snagging a few fish.
Mike Nabarowski and Zach Vaultonburg had pulled in a few bass and some blue gills.
“I used to come here every week,” Vaultonburg said.
He and Nabarowski had been waiting for the news that the park was reopening.
The flooding in the park has been a recurring problem. The park was closed in 2008 due to flooding and it did not reopen for two years.
City officials are exploring ways to prevent future flooding in the park. For now, they are looking to repair the damage caused the the most recent flooding. Parts of the park are bare because they have been under water for so long. Grass seed will need to be put down in the coming weeks. The tennis courts need some work, but the shelters and building in the park seem to have weathered the flooding fairly well.
The city is in the process of establishing a new park near Nature at the Confluence off Blackhawk Boulevard. Council member Ken Morse previously told the Beloit Daily News he hopes to have playground equipment installed at the new park in July.