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Spillway repairs, campsite upgrades could be coming to Loud Thunder

ILLINOIS CITY, Illinois -- Rock Island County leaders are looking to make millions of dollars in upgrades at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve.

The plan calls for roughly $4.5 million in improvements, starting with Lake George. Forest Preserve District Director Jeff Craver says the bank has started to erode, and the spillway needs structural repairs.

"We have to dewater the lake, rebuild a ledge, and then reinstall the rip-rap wall," said Craver. "The big thing is the structural integrity, and why we have to do that is because there's a campground down below. So, if there was a failure here, there would be a potential for a loss of life."

Plans also call for upgrades to the horse corral campsites, and the construction of a new RV campsite. The work would add more spots with water and electricity hook-ups.

"Camping is growing. More and more people understand the benefits of being outside, more people want to be outside, but they might not necessarily want to rough it," said Craver.

Upgrades would also allow for heavier electrical usage -- something many campers are excited to add.

"It would be super to have more amps out here, because we have a large, 38-foot fifth wheel, and it really requires at least 50 amp service, because it's got two huge air conditioner units on top. With the 30 amp, you can only run one," said Steve Jacobs.

Campsite improvements are expected to bring in some revenue, but the county would need to take out bonds to cover the work. Craver said the average homeowner's annual tax bill would go up about $1.70.

"This has been a lagging problem for the district. The cost, if we don't take care of it now, next year the construction costs are going to go up another five, ten percent," said Craver.

The Forest Preserve Commission will review an ordinance next week that would allow the district to borrow money.

If passed, a public hearing would be held before a county board vote later this fall.