DNR: Lake Darling park, lake improvements entering home stretch
BRIGHTON — Lake Darling will begin impounding water when the gates are closed during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Feb. 12 marking the beginning of the end of a more than $12 million project to renovate the lake and park that began more than a decade ago.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Friends of Lake Darling, state legislators, local officials, the Washington County Riverboat Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service and others affiliated with the project will be on hand to mark the occasion.
Lake Darling State Park, dedicated in 1950, will have a grand opening for the public in late summer or early fall.
“This is basically a brand new park,” said Tom Basten, southeast supervisor for Iowa DNR’s State Parks Bureau. “We’re hoping to open by midsummer, weather permitting. Some of these new features are a result of public support from the Friends of Lake Darling, the Izaak Walton League, Washington County Riverboat Foundation, the Sheldon Foundation and numerous private donors.”
The park remains closed, but once the work is finished, visitors will enjoy new features across the board.
The renovation includes:
• Replacing the dam.
• New sediment catch basins in the watershed.
• Two silt dams in the lake.
• Lake level raised two feet to increase surface acres.
• Installed shoreline riprap, fishing jetties and piers.
• New ADA fishing trail.
• New roads.
• New campground, with 50-amp service.
• New boat ramps.
• New shelter at boat rental area.
• New sand on the beach.
• New waterlines throughout the park.
• Two new shower buildings.
• New dump station.
• New fishing bridge.
• New trail bridge and refurbishment of others.
• New park lodge.
• Three two-bedroom, year-round cabins to be built this fall.