PONTOON BEACH, IL (KPLR) - The budget impasse in Illinois claims two state parks, including Horseshoe Lake State Park in Pontoon Beach.
Starting Monday, there will be no more fishing, no more picnicking, no more anything. Camping season, which was supposed to open May 1, is also canceled.
“It hurts my heart. It’s very sad,” said Cheryl West, who has enjoyed the park since she was a child. “It’s almost bringing me to tears because I think they should fight for it. There has got to be a way to keep this park open.”
The problem is the budget crisis in Springfield has left the park behind on its bills for trash pickup, and electricity. The state claims because of that, vendors are terminating those services.
“In some parts of the state, our vendors have been able to work with us and carry us on bills that are due and we are very grateful for that but we realize that some of the vendors can’t carry us forever,” said Chris Young, Department of Natural Resources spokesman.
The money Horseshoe Lake Park made from camping fees last year is more than twice what it owes for trash and power. The trouble is without a budget, the department cannot spend the money.
A spokesperson for Republic Services, which provides the trash hauling for Horseshoe Lake State Park said in a written statement that it continues to provide service at the park, “for now,” despite the unpaid bills.
Young was surprised by that news when informed of the statement and said it was 'great,' but that the park still will have no electricity so it will have to be closed.
The state is also closing Ramsey Lake State Park in central Illinois because it is also behind on its electric payments.
Employees from the closed parks will move to other state parks until the crisis is resolved.