At an O’Fallon City Council Workshop held on March 14, Parks Manager Jeremy Wolfmeyer presented a plan and time table for the proposed renovation of Lake Whetsel due to the accumulation of silt that has made the lake too shallow to be managed. Bids for the renovation and related construction were previously received on March 11, when city staff began reviewing bids. Staff will submit the full project and cost for council approval no later than April 11. Letters already have been sent to neighbors of the park, and as a result, construction is scheduled to begin immediately after council approval.The renovation process will include digging to the bottom of the lake to allow for the creation of three deeper sections for fish habitats. Other items include installing a fountain and aeration system to promote aquatic plant and wildlife growth, installing sidewalks around the lake in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements and installing a boardwalk area with scenic rock outcroppings.
As part of the plan, city staff has also requested the dates of March 8 through May 8 to conduct a “fish salvage.” During the two-month period, a pump will be used to drain the lake. During the drainage, anyone with a valid fishing license will be allowed to come in and remove fish without following typical fishing regulations. Signage has been placed to clarify the rules, including no motorized equipment. The public is expected to use fishing poles, nets, and non-motorized boats to get to the fish. The hours will run from dawn to dusk. The O’Fallon Police Department has been notified about this special event, in order to help monitor and control the anticipated traffic and numbers of people salvaging fish. All other park rules still apply.
To help avoid the recurrence of silt going forward, permanent ditch-checks will also be placed in tributaries upstream from the lake. The permanent ditch-checks will be monitored regularly by city staff and cleaned out as necessary to avoid silting. Temporary ditch-checks will be placed as part of the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan while the renovation is in progress.
The completion of the renovations, including the resurfacing the park’s roadway, is currently slated for late 2019.
Lake Whetsel is a 3.5-acre lake that was created in the 1970s by the damming a stream. It is located within the 48-acre Fort Zumwalt Park, which is located off Veterans Memorial Parkway near its intersection with Woodlawn Ave.