Illinois' first state park to get face-lift post-budget impasse

Illinois' first state park to get face-lift post-budget impasse

METROPOLIS, IL (KFVS) - An Illinois treasure will soon soon start to see long-awaited changes in the coming months.

The state of Illinois is invest close to $2.8 million in capital funding has to benefit Fort Massac State Park as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 capital budget approved in late May.

Site Superintendent Chris McGinness says the new funding from the state of Illinois will allow the fort to be restored after all these years. “Well it’s extremely important that you get the fort back up and running for both history and tourism," said McGinness.

Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis, Ill. is one of Illinois' historical gems, it’s Illinois’s first state park.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that we maintain these historically important and unique attractions that area residents enjoy, encourage tourism and boost our local economy," State Senator Dale Fowlers said.

“All of our tourism in this region is based on Fort Massac and the forts that were built here and so obviously with having the forts closed for several years it did affect tourism in this area,” McGinness said.

More than $2 million of those dollars will go towards an evaluation and then the structural improvements within the park, including the timber-framed 19th Century fort replicas. An additional $770,400 will be used for maintenance projects, including work on the heating, ventilation and duct systems, exhaust fans, piping insulation, a natural gas water heater, and rehabilitating or replacing the existing shower building.

There is a model replica in the main office, right near the replica of the 1802 American fort that will be restored.

“The east and west barracks will both be taken down and rebuilt and the officers quarters those three buildings will be redone," he said.

One visitor Jim Eilers is happy to see the park restored despite the state budget woes in the last few years.

“It’s a very important job for our state governments as well as our federal government,” he said. “That’s part of what they exist to do. If they cut it short on that, they are not performing adequate service to the citizens.”

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity can now release the funds. McGinness says the next steps are to bid it this fall and start construction next year – with a goal for the encampment being open by this time next year.

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