Government shutdown closes local recreational park

By Beau Ebenezer

October 2, 2013 Updated Oct 2, 2013 at 10:08 AM CDT

EAST PEORIA Ill -- Taking a trip to the Farmdale Reservoir Trail, usually means horseback riding, jogging, or the highly popular mountain biking.

However, following a government shutdown Monday night, local residents were shocked to see a closed sign on their favorite piece of land.

"Completely unexpected," said Peoria Area Mountain Biker's Association Member Chase Antonini. "It is a big disappointment. I hate to see it."

The 837 acre park just outside of East Peoria is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Now, the designated ranger who patrols it has been furloughed, leaving the government with no option but to close it for the time-being.

"After work time the parking lot down below is typically almost full," Antonini said. "I don't know, a rough estimate would probably be at least 100 people come through here once a day to take a loop through the trails."

Antonini said he uses the trail on a regular basis, and now, with the park closed, his club is unable to do volunteer up-keep of the trails.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are trying to hash out a solution to the budget.

U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock said a large portion of blame for the shutdown falls on the Senate.

"The House has passed a bill on four separate occasions," Schock said. "Of those four separate occasions, the Senate has refused to pass the bill. We have named conferees to go to conference. The Senate refused to name conferees. At some point you cannot negotiate with an empty room."

After the first full day of the shutdown, Democrats rejected an attempt by House Republicans to restore funding to delayed veterans' benefits and closed national parks and recreational areas, like Farmdale.

As for now, events like the Saturday Mountain Biker's Association Kid's Ride may be moved to another location.

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