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Daily Journal
     October 6, 2021      #61-279 KDJ

Beckman Harbor forced to close early after dock

By Chris Breach

Kankakee Valley Park District Executive Director Dayna Heitz is hopeful the district will be able to accommodate boat owners affected by the collapse of the dock and north wall of Beckman Harbor.

Heavy rains of nearly 3 inches inundated the harbor on Saturday, as a nearby creek overflowed and the excess water might have caused approximately 80 feet of the dock and wall on the north side of the harbor to collapse. The harbor has 72 boat slips, and slips 1 to 22 were directly affected by the damage.

“There weren’t a full 22 [boats] because some people had already pulled their boats, and we were able to move all the boats to other locations,” said Heitz on Monday. “The boating community, our harbor community and just neighbors in general, they were incredible. They were awesome. The help that they provided, the quick reactions, I can’t thank them enough.”

Each year all boats must be removed from the harbor by Oct. 15, but now the park district is asking for all the remaining boats to be removed by Sunday, so damage assessments can be made to the entire harbor.

Heitz said she and two staff members made it out to Beckman Harbor when they were alerted of the crisis. Staff members began calling slip holders 1 to 22.

“Our first step is to get the rest of the boats out for stability of the harbor and have it assessed,” Heitz said. “We can’t do anything until it’s been assessed by our risk management, and then we will take out all the docks and the ramps that we can. We’re going to completely move them out of the harbor and fully close off the harbor. We will leave the ramp open and available because that’s for emergency purposes.”

Once the harbor has been inspected by insurance adjusters from Park District Risk Management Agency and civil engineers, KVPD will begin to know what might be the future of the harbor. It will likely be next year before repairs can be made.

“What are our options for this, especially if the riverbanks are constantly getting washed away and so forth?” Heitz said. “And what can I do to accommodate our boating community if it’s not rebuilt next year? ... I don’t know if we can take care of everybody because we have 72 slips in there now.

“I don’t think we have space to accommodate everybody along the riverbank, but we’re going to figure out how we can accommodate the most that we can. ... I want to make sure that they have a place, but I don’t know until we talk to the civil engineers what we can do, what our options are.”


Heitz isn’t sure how old the harbor is because she hasn’t yet had time to check park district records, but she’s been told by a staff member that Beckman Harbor was constructed in the late 1950s or ‘60s. The harbor was also renovated at some point to allow for larger boats.

“I don’t know how long ago, and I don’t know what they did to reconstruct it, to be honest,” she said.

After the wall collapsed on Saturday night, Chris Karraker, who has a boat in the harbor, called KVPD staff member Greg Foster. Heitz said Foster called her right away, and the district responded.

“Everyone started heading in and dispatching staff, calling staff to see who could come in,” Heitz said.

Boaters pay an annual fee for the boat slips, depending on the size of the craft. Boats up to 21 feet are $445 for residents and $545 for non-residents. Boats 21 to 26 feet are $470 for residents and $570 for non-residents.

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