By Kim Watson
For the Star-Gazette
Mayor Steve Patterson’s message was short and sweet: Beardstown needs help to bring back its marina. Beardstown is located on mile 88 of the Illinois River but for a river town it can hardly get to the river from her own banks. This thriving, vital part of the community has been shut down but the community is not willing to give up on a big part of their heritage.
Beardstown was one of the most populated river towns in central Illinois with hundreds of boaters, hunters and commercial fishermen. They used the marina to provide access to the river and it was packed every weekend. Getting a parking place was almost impossible if they were not there early. Now when you drive down to the marina you would be lucky to see two or three cars parked there.
Recently, Patterson invited Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon to stop by for a visit and to take a look at what Beardstown has lost. While she was in town she drove down to the marina and spoke to a group of 40-50 people who have grown up on this river and remember the marina at its best.
The message was the same from each and every person who spoke: They want the marina back and they have people that are willing to help but we need support of other government officials to get the job done. Beardstown is a community that makes things happen and we need your (Lieutenant Governor Simon) help.
Simon explained she does not have a budget or a large staff but she does have the ability to get others in Springfield to listen. She stood on top of the levy and looked out at what used to be the entry point into the river from the marina, now closed in by silt build-up. She saw the narrow opening that was once the main passage to the river. She was amazed at how the community has lost such a vital resource.
Patterson told Simon “we need more than just words. We need people to come see what is being lost. The window of opportunity is closing day by day. We want our marina back and we will not stand around and let our community lose anymore.” The marina is important to the economy of Beardstown as well as a legacy to many families. Please let your congressmen know that Beardstown is on a mission to get the marina back.