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Warmer water providing big help for Quarry Beach

Crowds gather at Harold Hall Quarry Beach on Monday afternoon in Batavia.
Crowds gather at Harold Hall Quarry Beach on Monday afternoon in Batavia.

BATAVIA – Doreen Dorr of St. Charles watched as her 3-year-old daughter, Dylan, splashed in the shallow water at Harold Hall Quarry Beach in Batavia.

Dorr and her children are regular visitors at Quarry Beach at 400 S. Water St., Batavia. For Dorr and other families, frequenting the quarry is a summertime ritual.

“It’s more real,” she said. “They have an actual slide and beach. It’s a nice, real feel.”

As the summer heats up, more visitors are heading to Quarry Beach, something that has become a tradition for generations of families. And last year, the facility enjoyed several capacity crowds, thanks to a combination of warm weather and a new liner installed in an attempt to provide warmer water temperatures.

Before the liner was installed, water as cold as 55 degrees was being pumped in by a well. The liner, which was installed last year, helped the temperature of the water reach 80 degrees last season, officials said.

Kari Miller, the district’s director of marketing and public relations, said the previously frigid water temperatures were beginning to affect attendance numbers. Attendance dropped from 40,000 patrons in 2006 to just 20,000 visitors in 2009, she said.

But there were many days last year that Quarry Beach was at capacity with 1,500 people, Batavia Park District Executive Director Allison Niemela said. Records indicate last year’s attendance, 45,630, was the best since 2002.

Quarry Beach’s distinct history is part of its appeal. After it operated as a quarry for years, Frederick Beach bought it in 1920 and donated the property to Batavia Township. The township created one swimming area from the six ponds in the quarry and named it the Frederick H. Beach Park and Pool.

The Batavia Park District took over its operation after it formed in 1969.

The facility was renamed Harold Hall Quarry Beach in 1993, in honor of former park board commissioner Harold “Bosco” Hall.

The problem with the water temperature started after a dam was removed from the adjacent Fox River in 2004, causing the quarry to leak nearly 250,000 gallons of water a day into the Fox River.

A well was dug to replenish the water and keep it at safe swimming levels. However, the well pumped 55-degree water into the quarry, and the sun could do only so much to heat the water, Miller said.

Niemela said season-pass sales this year are up 10 percent from last year.

“Since we are solar heated, we are 100 percent dependent on Mother Nature,” Niemela said. “We have seen marked improvement since we installed the liner. The improvements made to Hall Quarry Beach have led more people to test it out for themselves, and make it a destination for them for the summer.”

Roxanne Willis of Batavia said she brings her two children, Lydia, 6, and Ivan, 9, to Quarry Beach on a regular basis.

“They love it,” Willis said. “There’s sand that they like to play in. They always run into friends here. They stay here for three to four hours at a time.”

Willis doesn’t take a dip in Quarry Beach’s pool that often, but she said that Quarry Beach is a unique experience, and she said she boasts about it to her friends.

“I tell other friends in other parts of the country that we don’t have a pool, we have a quarry,” she said.

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