Historic Lake DeFuniak will be welcoming swimmers once again

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DEFUNIAK SPRINGS Fla. (WMBB)– A once-popular swimming area in DeFuniak Springs is reopening.

Lake DeFuniak has been closed to swimmers for 57 years, but City Councilman Anthony Vallee said residents miss the once-popular swimming hole. It was a place many remember as having school recess and learning to swim.

“Before 1964 swimming was actually very prevalent,” said Vallee.

But then things changed.

“In the ‘60s there were some issues and so they decided to shut it off and restrict it to all human activity,” he said. “So no fishing, no boating, no swimming, and there was a lot of tension around that period.”

A  written record from 50 years ago shows the lake was polluted and the city needed to shut it down for the protection of the general public. Then in 1977, another ordinance was passed which was intended to reopen the lake, except for swimming.

“You could kayak but you couldn’t swim,” said Vallee. “You could fish, but you couldn’t swim. You can do all kinds of things but for some reason, they didn’t want you swimming in the lake. It didn’t make any sense to me so then I started doing some research and started to understand how we could open up the lake.”

The area has already been blocked off for swimmers at Lake DeFuniak. From buoy to buoy, it extends about 100 feet.

“It’s a public park and the public should have access to the public facilities as much as possible and be able to swim is just another piece of that,” he mentioned.

Vallee said more visitors may travel to the area to enjoy the lake, and Hannah Enders and her children visiting from the north, agree.

“To have something so close that you can take your kid’s swimming would be really nice,” said Enders.

For resident Anthony Miley, he thinks some more work might need to be done, but knows the lake will be amazing in no time.

“There are a few things you’ve got to do to clean it up a little bit, but yes I think it’s a good idea, three years from now I think it will be flourishing,” said Miley.

This year’s swimming season will be the entire month of September. But starting next year, the swimming season will go from March 1 to September 30.

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