West Rock Wake Park coming to Rockford’s Levings Lake in July

Online Staff Report

Cable parks — otherwise known as wake parks — are growing in popularity, and the first one of its kind in the northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin area is coming to Rockford. The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners has approved West Rock Wake Park at Levings Lake, 1420 S. Pierpont Ave., Rockford. West Rock Lake Park is expected to open in July.

Rockford Park District staff was contacted in the spring by a local wake board/cable park expert, Daniel Jarrett, to discuss the opportunity of partnering to bring a wake park to Rockford.  After several meetings, it was determined Levings Lake was the ideal location because of its depth, structure and amenities.

Jarrett and district staff met on location with respective members of the Rockford City Council, Winnebago County Board, SWIFTT (South West Ideas for Today and Tomorrow), and has also been in discussions with BeachWatch, LLC, which operates the swimming beach and paddle boat operations at Levings Lake.  All unanimously supported the idea of bringing a wake park to Levings Lake.

Total estimated start-up cost for the West Rock Wake Park is $190,000.  The City of Rockford (led by Ald. Venita Hervey, D-5), Winnebago County (led by County Board member Dorothy Redd, D-18) and Rockford Park District have each committed $15,000 toward the project, which will bring in the needed electricity to the location as well as prep the shoreline, dock and anchors for cabling equipment. West Rock Wake Park will fund the remainder of the project, which is scheduled to open for a soft launch at the beginning of July.

Park District Deputy Director of Operations Jay Sandine said: “We are very excited to be a part of this new and exciting program for our community. Levings Park is among the most beautiful parks in our region, and the lake and all of its amenities will be an ideal location for the wake park. The wake park will complement other activities, especially the beach operation, and will also help to improve the ecology of the lake, particularly fishing.”

Cable skiing was invented in Germany in 1959; the sport is very popular in Europe, and is gaining momentum in the United States with parks in Florida, Texas and Georgia.

A cable park provides an opportunity for people to water ski or wake board, by which the skier’s rope and handle are pulled by an electrically driven cable instead of a traditional motorboat.

The mechanism consists of two cables generally suspended 26 to 30 feet above the water and running parallel to one another with carriers between them every 80 meters. 

The carriers are metal tubes that can hook up tow ropes with riders.  Tow ropes are detached and attached at the same time without slowing the system down, which is the main reason for the high efficiency. 

Other important advantages of the cables compared to boats are environmental friendliness, and the enormous capacity.  The electric motor of the cable is quiet, clean and energy efficient. 

The new activity will also provide benefits to the lake and particularly fishing through the added oxygenation created by water movement.

Posted May 28, 2014

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