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Beach House Marina

A jogger runs through the new Decatur Park District marina in front of The Beach House restaurant.

DECATUR — The Decatur Park District’s new docks in front of the Beach House restaurant are soon to be full of boats for their first season.

The docks were constructed in partnership with the city as part of the Nelson Park lakefront development plan. Officials hoped they would provide a tangible example of the standards that all of the park’s docks are eventually expected to meet.

“This was the prototype,” park district Executive Director Bill Clevenger said. “The boaters and community individuals asked what this was going to look like. (They said), ‘Show us what it’s going to look like.’ The product, the prototype that’s down there, it creates a look that we can all be proud of.”

It costs $695 to rent a boat slip from the district for the season at the new docks, which include electricity and potable water. The district’s older docks, 28 slips in front of the Dockside Restaurant, are no longer available for rent because of restrictions from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Of the 26 people who were renting slips last year, 11 have returned to the new docks so far, said Mandy Childress, who manages the boat slips for the park district. Several people who did not return cited the increased cost, which was $200 higher than what they had paid for the floating docks.

There are 30 slips total available for rent at the two new docks, and Childress said she has people lined up for all of them in addition to a 25-person waiting list.

There are seven slips on Dock B that will be available for short-term use by the public, so people can park their boats and enjoy a meal at the Beach House or take a brief stroll along the shoreline.

Four of the new docks also include boat lifts. They rent for an additional $400. Otherwise, people have the choice to install their own boat lifts or not, Clevenger said.

Conversations are ongoing between city and park district staff as to how the rest of the docks in the Nelson Park area will be managed in the future. Officials have said the goal is to enhance the docks and bring them under a common set of standards.

Clevenger said public discussions by both governments’ boards would take place by mid-to-late summer.|(217) 421-6986

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