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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Harrisburg Lake getting attention from city council

  • Harrisburg Lake is slightly west of Galatia and about 10 miles from Harrisburg's city limits.
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  • Harrisburg Lake is slightly west of Galatia and about 10 miles from Harrisburg's city limits.
    The lake was formed in the 1950s when a levee was built and the water started to rise in a low valley forming what can be described as a long, skinny body of water.
    The lake and some of land surrounding it belongs to the City of Harrisburg.
    It was first used as a source of drinking water but that changed in 1982 when other arrangements were made for Harrisburg's water supply said Dale Fowler, city public property commissioner.
    Fowler at a recent Harrisburg City Council meeting said he toured the residences at Harrisburg and wants to revisit some of the city ordinances regarding the lake. He saw 10 to 15 residences that appeared to have been abandoned and used only as storage. He believes the city should not be renewing the leases for those who do not keep their property up. The attention has some residents uneasy.
    "It is one of the area's best kept secrets," said a lessee of one of the lots situated on the shallow lake's muddy shore.
    "This place is idyllic, great views," she said.
    All but one of the lessees of lake lots asked to remain nameless. They fear being hassled by neighbors who might object to their point of view.
    It is a rather small and insular community of temporary residents.
    The city offers lots for lease. Lessees of these lots cannot live there full time. They are intended to be recreational dwellings, used only part of the year. They camp, move in trailers that are less than 10 years old, or build small cabins which could easily be removed.
    The blessings of being off the radar and ignored probably have kept the price of the leases down over the years. A lease on one of lots can be had for $350 a year according to one lessee.
    "When I first started leasing the price was only $200 per year but for 2012 I paid $350," he said.
    "There is no sewer or water service," he said.
    The lessees create their own inspected inspected septic systems.
    "I went with an irrigator that had to be approved by Egyptian Health. They say you can drink the water that comes out of it. I never would," he said.
    "As a community we really don't have many gripes," said another lessee. "The trash situation could be improved. People who come in and fish the bridge or the shoreline are pretty bad about littering. We end up having to clean up and mow the public areas ourselves.
    "They used to have dumpsters out by the public parking area for the bridge and down by the boat ramp. Locals from Eldorado and other areas used to bring in pickup trucks loaded with trash and dump it by those dumpsters. That way they didn't have to hire trash service at home. It got really bad and the city removed the dumpsters. It's much better now," he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Another lessee said, "Whoever is doing the forest ranger job is doing great lately.
    They only allow regular fishing. They don't allow trot lines or plastic jug fishing. Sometimes people do it anyway, but it's getting better lately."
    One lessee who had no problem with being identified was Shawn Dempsey of Eldorado. He leases a lot across the street from his uncle's waterfront lot.
    "We keep our property mowed and so does my uncle. We help each other out.
    Sometimes I mow around the public parking area. The city doesn't always keep it mowed that well. That's the parking area for outsiders who come to fish on the bridge," he said.
    Another lessee said, "This is a healthy fellowship of people from about 60 to 85 years of age. We watch out for each other. We don't have many gripes and we hope that the renewed interest on the city's part will help get the litter cleaned up."
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