Eagle Creek Resort

After 10 years of frustration about what to do with the abandoned Eagle Creek Resort near Findlay, the Shelby County Board Chairman said the IDNR is wanting to burn it down. 

It was a hot tip at the Shelby County Board meeting on Wednesday, as the chairman, Dave Cruitt, announced that Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is looking to burn Eagle Creek to the ground.

After 10 years of twiddling their thumbs about what to do with the property, the latest idea to deal with the mess at Eagle Creek, a former resort and conference center near Findlay, is to torch it. 

Eagle Creek Resort closed in 2009 due to financial turmoil and mold infestation, costing the area tourism dollars and jobs. Because the resort rarely had 50 percent occupancy when it was open, officials one time suggested that a new one be built at a smaller scale.

The state's long-running budget impasse and a short-handed IDNR staff have slowed the redevelopment movement. Since it closed in 2009, the building has been vacant.

Only one proposal for re-development was submitted to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the spring of 2018, said Andrew Hansen, a media representative for the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus. That proposal didn't get IDNR's approval.

The effort this past year came with a $500,000 backing from the state, according to the office of State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. The money could  be used for demolition, construction, or reconstruction costs.

Cruitt announced that two weeks ago, he and County Board Vice-Chairman Bruce Cannon met with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources about Eagle Creek. 

He said IDNR wants to demolish the buildings, Eagles Nest and the hotel, by burning them down. The golf course would not be affected.

"The idea is that most developers would prefer to come in and start from scratch," Cruitt said. But the state can't take it down in a timely manner because of procurement laws. They wanted an inter-governmental agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"But that takes a lot of work to get it approved in the St. Louis District of the Corps and then to get approval in Washington, D.C. The simplest way to do it is to work this out with the county. And, I hope it does."

Critt says the area has been missing out on the development of the property for the past 10 years.

"We'll have a fresh footprint, where it can become a destination point, again," Cruitt said. "It would be a similar format as before, but just on a smaller scale to get tourism and tax dollars. In the summer there are limited places to stay around the lake."

He said IDNR was wanting to work with Shelby County on an inter-agency agreement with the State to then remove the debris.

The plan would be for IDNR to work with local fire departments and a fire training institute out of Champaign to use the burns for training. Cannon said the idea would be for IDNR to work with local departments on burning down Eagle's Nest, but to use the fire training institute for burning the hotel.

Cannon said the opportunity to have training on a burning hotel is rare, that's why the idea is for the institute to handle the hotel burns. He said there would be 3 burns, total. There would be one burn for Eagle's Nest and two separate training burns at the hotel.

After the burns, the State would give money to Shelby County to contract out and pay for someone to take away all the debris. It would cost the County nothing, according to Cannon. After the area is completely clean, it is expected that the State would bid out the property at Eagle Creek.

It was stated that the State has the money appropriated for this fiscal year. It was reported that IDNR wanted to have the work done in March. However, Cruitt thinks it will take a little longer.

"The County Board has to approve the agreement," Cruitt said. "We hope to have it completed and, there are no snags, present it to the board in March. Then the Corps has the final say so. It's their property. They want to know there is a contract for clean-up."

If the board approves the agreement it will take a couple weeks for the 

It was a hot tip at the Shelby County Board meeting on Wednesday, as the chairman, Dave Cruitt, announced that Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is looking to burn Eagle Creek to the ground.

After 10 years of twiddling their thumbs about what to do with the property, the latest idea to deal with the mess at Eagle Creek, a former resort and conference center near Findlay, is to torch it.

Eagle Creek Resort closed in 2009 due to financial turmoil and mold infestation, costing the area tourism dollars and jobs. Because the resort rarely had 50 percent occupancy when it was open, officials one time suggested that a new one be built at a smaller scale.

The state's long-running budget impasse and a short-handed IDNR staff have slowed the redevelopment movement. Since it closed in 2009, the building has been vacant.

Only one proposal for re-development was submitted to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the spring of 2018, said Andrew Hansen, a media representative for the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus. That proposal didn't get IDNR's approval.

The effort this past year came with a $500,000 backing from the state, according to the office of State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. The money could be used for demolition, construction, or reconstruction costs.

Cruitt announced that two weeks ago, he and County Board Vice-Chairman Bruce Cannon met with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources about Eagle Creek.

He said IDNR wants to demolish the buildings, Eagles Nest and the hotel, by burning them down. They want to clear the area off where the buildings are, seed it, and then try to get bids from developers. The golf course would not be affected.

"The idea is that most developers would prefer to come in and start from scratch," Cruitt said. "But the state can't take it down in a timely manner because of procurement laws. They wanted an inter-governmental agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But that takes a lot of work to get it approved in the St. Louis District of the Corps and then to get approval in Washington, D.C. The simplest way to do it is to work this out with the County. And, I hope it does."

Cruitt says the area has been missing out on the development of the property for the past 10 years.

"We'll have a fresh footprint, where it can become a destination point, again," Cruitt said. "It would be a similar format as before, but just on a smaller scale, to get tourism and tax dollars. In the summer, there are limited places to stay around the lake."

He said IDNR was wanting to work with Shelby County on an inter-agency agreement to then remove the debris. The plan would be for IDNR to work with local fire departments and a fire training institute out of Champaign to use the burns for training. Cannon said the idea would be for IDNR to work with local departments on burning down Eagle's Nest, but to use the fire training institute for burning the hotel.

Cannon said the opportunity to have training on a burning hotel is rare, that's why the idea is for the institute to handle the hotel burns. He said there would be 3 burns, total. There would be one burn for Eagle's Nest and two separate training burns at the hotel.

After the burns, the State would provide the funds for Shelby County to contract out and pay for someone to take away all the debris. It would cost the County nothing, according to Cannon. After the area is completely clean, it is expected that the State would bid out the property at Eagle Creek.

It was stated that the State has the money appropriated for this fiscal year. It was reported that IDNR wanted to have the work done in March. However, Cruitt thinks it will take a little longer.

"The County Board has to approve the agreement," Cruitt said. "We hope to have the agreement completed and, if there are no snags, present it to the board in March. Then the Corps has the final say so. It's their property. They want to know there is a contract for clean-up."

If the board approves the agreement it will take a couple weeks for the County to let bids for debris removal. Then the burns would take place, theoretically, over 3 Saturdays. It would then be roughly the end of April. Cannon said the state was hoping for the clean-up to be done in 90 days, but he said it could take a little longer.

There was no board action taken concerning Eagle Creek. It will be discussed at the March meeting of the Shelby County Board on March 13.

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