The project to drain Lake Whetsel, remove all fish, remove unwanted silt from the lake bed, dig deeper fish habitats, install an aeration system, add ADA-compliant sidewalks, install a boardwalk area with scenic outcroppings, upgrade creek and spring channels to prevent future silt buildup of silt, and re-stock the renovated lake is “essentially complete.”
O’Fallon Communications Director Tom Drabelle said on Feb. 28 that “just some minor cleanup work” remains.
“The lake area is open to residents. [However,] due to the need to restore the fish population to proper sizes and levels, no fishing will be allowed in the lake for the next two to three years,” Drabelle said.
The renovation project was approved by the O’Fallon City Council on March 29, 2019, for a total cost of $1,084,401.18. Work got underway last April. As the lake was drained in late summer/early fall, the public participated in a “fish harvest” to remove the fish before they died from a lack of water.
The 4-acre lake is located in the 48-acre Fort Zumwalt Park, off of Veterans Parkway, just west of Woodlawn Avenue. The park also includes the restored Darius Heald Home, a reconstruction of Jacob Zumwalt’s fortified homestead, a children’s playground, a picnic pavilion and a shelter house.
Each holiday season, the park features O’Fallon’s annual non-profit “Celebration of Lights” that can be viewed by driving along the park road.