Snowstar Winter Park open all year

Rock Island County board gives stamp of approval after years of debate

The fun won't stop after the winter months for Snowstar Winter Park in Andalusia. 

The Rock Island County board gave the stamp of approval for the request to stay open by Snowstar owners. The decision comes after an ongoing debate dating back to 2013. 

Snowstar Winter Park General Manager, Dan McCanna, is celebrating tonight.

"It's a great evening for us and hopefully for the community," he said.

The park has been in business for over 35 years, but says mild winters in recent years has taken a toll on business. 

"We're going to be able to increase the number of full-time jobs, which generates a little more income for the community, and more tax dollar base." 

McCanna says in a typical year, they go from 185 employees in the winter, to just six full-time employees year-round. 

But pushback from neighbors and farmers in the area has been the main reason this has been a long awaited decision.

One local farmer called tonight a "failure," voicing concerns for the area.

"City people come out, they drive the roads and they think it's a big playground. Driving on gravel is about as dangerous as driving on winter ice out there." 

The farmer asked not to be identified for this story.

McCanna says he's well aware of the neighbor's concerns and understands. 

"Safety is our number one concern," said McCanna. "We don't want to see anything happen to anybody."

McCanna even promised one area farmer to personally direct traffic if it gets in the way of moving farming equipment. 

But some are not convinced.

"They live in the country for the peace and quiet, the lack of traffic, not increased traffic. They want the quiet and peace," said one farmer. 

Kai Swanson is a member of the Rock Island County Board and says he understands the pushback from the neighborhood.

"That's a lot of traffic and a lot of them chose to live there because they knew that Snowstar was there and the traffic is bad for a couple of months out of the year but they think 'okay, I'll take that as long as it's not all year round," said Swanson. 

But McCanna says the new plans mainly include quieter events. They want to host weddings and class reunions. While they eventually hope to install a zipline, McCanna says nothing will happen overnight.

For now, Snowstar will focus on their usual winter activities, and they hope to phase in those new developments in the Spring. 

 


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