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A once-promising state-owned resort on the shores of Lake Shelbyville is about to meet with a rather unfortunate ending. The Eagle Creek Resort, which opened 30 years ago this month, is scheduled to go up in flames in August. The resort, allegedly built at a cost of $17.5 million, no longer serves any useful purpose except for training for volunteer fire departments.

It really will be like a funeral. Or a cremation ceremony. The Eagle Creek Resort, a 138-room lodge, conference center, golf course and boat dock, really was an enjoyable place to visit and to spend money. About 70 miles southwest of Champaign-Urbana, Eagle Creek once held tremendous economic promise for central Illinois and especially for Shelby and Moultrie counties.

When it opened in July 1989 a News-Gazette story hailed its “rustic luxury.” Twenty years later, though, Eagle Creek was merely rustic. And downright unsafe. A judge ordered the resort shut down after mold was found in an indoor pool and in some rooms.

Beleaguered by financial and infrastructure problems, Eagle Creek never reopened.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at refurbishment and rebirth, the state Department of Natural Resources wisely decided to just demolish the resort. That is tentatively scheduled to happen with a live training exercise sometime in August, to be conducted by the Illinois Fire Training Institute.

Both local officials and the state believe that some sort of recreational and tourist attraction, perhaps something on a smaller scale, could be successful at the Eagle Creek site.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources said last week that the state and the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the Eagle Creek site, have discussed a replacement recreational facility.

“We don’t know yet what that will be, whether it’s a conference center or cabins or a hotel or something else,” said Rachel Torbert. “But it’s a beautiful area and a great location. We certainly want to get something else there as soon as is possible.”

News-Gazette