Rainy weather hits hard on local park district

By Chad Weber

June 3, 2013 Updated Dec 3, 2013 at 7:21 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- This spring is among the wettest in history and those April and May showers are washing away dollars for local park districts.

"This is probably the worst," said Fondulac Park District Executive Director Brad Smith, "the worst year I've experienced in 35 years."

The Fondulac Park District is hurting in the pocketbook as rainy weather and cool temperatures seem to be outstaying their welcome.

Splashdown water park was ready to celebrate its opening on Memorial Day weekend, but instead has barely opened its gates.

"I think we've been open two partials days," said Smith.

The water park is about $35,000 dollars behind last year.

At the golf courses, the carts sit on the pavement, unable to drive on the wet grass.

"If you can't get out and mow," said Director of golf Tom Wolff, "obviously you can't get out and play. If you can't get out and play, you can't hardly afford to pay the people to mow. You can't win."

The two courses in the park district are $85,000 dollars behind.

But the hardest hit has been the Carl Spindler Campground and Marina where lost revenue and damages left by last month's flood total $200,000 dollars.

"This year will be a total loss." said Fondulac Chief of Police Michael Johnson. "We're hoping to have the facility back up and running depending on what the water does in the next couple weeks."

While the campground is losing money with about half of the grounds underwater, those who count on it for a permanent residence were hit even harder.

"Told us we were going to have to leave, "said Robert Barnard who lives year round at the campground. "We would have to be out by noon the next day."

Six weeks after being evacuated due to high water levels, the 100 campground residents were allowed to return to the premises.

"We'll never recover from it," said Smith, "but the longer it goes on the worse it is going to be."

Officials said in total, the Fondulac Park District is almost a half million dollars behind last year revenue.

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