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Goal for Windsor Lake: Restock with people

May 11, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — Algae settled on Windsor Lake a little early this year.

“Usually we get it in July. We see it for about two weeks and then it’s gone,” Kurt Carlson said as he looked over the still lake in Loves Park Thursday. “It’s the warm weather.”

The spring-fed lake, once a popular spot for boating, swimming and fishing, was empty with the exception of the algae and a few geese as Carlson looked it over. He and his father, Ed, a former Rockford Park District commissioner, want to bring people back to the lake for the first time in more than 15 years.

“We think it could be a huge asset to the community,” Kurt Carlson said.

The Carlsons want to lease the lake to the Park District for one year in order to jump-start recreation opportunities. If successful, the Carlsons would donate the land to the Park District permanently.

The Carlsons envision the site with regulated fishing, paddle boating and recreational paths to walk around the property.

“It could be an excellent recreation location for this area,” Ed Carlson said. “This could bring back a family atmosphere.”

During the time of the lease, the Park District would partner with Paddle and Trail, an outdoor retailer located along the lake, to offer rental boats and programs like kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing. The lake could also be open for regulated catch-and-release fishing and hiking.

All the operational costs would be paid for by Paddle and Trail. The Carlsons plan to give the district a one-year lease for $1. Carlson said he would continue to pay the roughly $4,100 a year in taxes during the lease. The district would have minimal startup costs, which could include installing signs and sprucing up the site to get it ready for public use, said Jay Sandine, the district’s deputy director of operations.

“It’s really a test pilot to see how the community responds, how Paddle and Trail does, if the Carlsons are happy with what they see,” Sandine said. If it works out “it would set up a long-term donation to the Park District.”

The district will host a public meeting Monday to get more feedback from the public before it enters into the agreement to lease the land.

Ed Carlson has been interested in turning the property into a Park District facility for years. Carlson bought it in 1970 for $165,000 from former Loves Park Mayor Frank Larson, according to Register Star archives. In 1974, Loves Park rejected a proposal to buy it from him and hold it for the Park District to purchase in the future. Selling it directly to the district was seen as a conflict of interest because Carlson was a commissioner at the time, according to Register Star archives.

Reach staff writer Kevin Haas at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 815-987-1410.

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