Jacksonville area residents who enjoy fishing and pleasure boating will have a revitalized option soon.
The Jacksonville City Council accepted a construction bid for a proposed new boat launch and parking area at Lake Mauvaisterre on Monday, September 14th. The project intends to bring better and safer access to the lake – a lake that many in the area consider to be a forgotten treasure for fishing and recreation.
Lakes site manager Brett Gilbreth says the plan has designed an entirely new boat launch to be constructed, allowing for boats to be launched in deeper water than the current ramp can provide. The ramp will be to the east of the current wood dock near Kiwanis Grove. Gilbreth says the location of the ramp addresses a long-standing complaint from residents about using the lake: “[Not having deeper water to launch in] is one of the biggest reasons why people haven’t utilized Mauvaisterre in the last several years. There hasn’t been a ramp or a launch that you can move forward into and load and unload your boat safely without having to worry about whether they are going to get caught on some stuff after [the city] had done dredging project several years back. We are really excited to have it.”
The existing ramp at the lake faces to the south, and the new launch will be turned 90 degrees along that shoreline to face the east, to give the deep water access. Gilbreth says the improvements might actually give residents the ability to extend their season on the water after Lake Jacksonville closes for the year: “This is going to be a big deal. We close up at Lake Jacksonville on October 14th. We can’t control what Mother Nature is going to do, so this will actually give people, whether it’s fishermen or pleasure boaters not skiing or tubing or anything like that, another avenue where they can go once Lake Jacksonville closes up. If it’s good weather, they can get out on Lake Mauvaisterre and utilize that facility the same way they would otherwise for the most part.”
The new boat ramp is possible after the city received a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources last year for the project. The construction bid was awarded to Rouland Construction & Trucking of Jacksonville for a little over $229,000 to complete the work. The city will have to fund the project over the the grant. Gilbreth expects work on the site to start as early as the first or second week of October.
Gilbreth says future work is planned for Lake Mauvaisterre, including studies on the fish population this Fall for restocking. The study will help determine what species can be raised in the city’s rearing pond near Lake Jacksonville to help improve the population. There are also more plans for more docks around the lake and possibly reopening many of the closed points on the lake – including those near Country Club Road – to help promote fishing and enjoyment of the lake.
“We want to give the lake back. We’ve taken away the use over the years due to vandalism or dumping. Now, we are getting the time to clean those areas up and start opening them back up at a slow rate and give it back to the people, because that is who it’s intended for. The intention is for people to fish, to picnic, whatever that may be, and it’s time we start cleaning some stuff up and making it a little bit easier [to access], and better on our customers to get in and around that lake,” Gilbreth says, “There are even some aspects here at Lake Jacksonville, some more points that we are looking at opening up here in the near future.”
Gilbreth says the current improvements also help with making Lake Mauvaisterre more ADA-accessible, by providing a paved parking area, a better boat launch, and more dock accessibility to all people so they can enjoy the lake.
Gilbreth says the existing dock, which was built as an Eagle Scout project in the mid-2000s, will either stay in its current location or may be moved next to the new boat launch, because it is already ADA compliant.