Petersburg overturns segregation decision that closed lake

Petersburg overturns segregation decision that closed lake
Wilcox Lake could be reopened for recreational swimming. (Source: NBC12)

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Petersburg City Council voted last week to overturn a segregation decision that closed a lake in 1958.

The move opens the chance that Willcox Lake could reopen for recreational swimming.

"I brought up this discussion in 2013 with no success, however, I felt that Juneteenth this year was just the perfect time to bring it back to the table," said City Councilwoman Treska Wilson-Smith.

The decision to reopen to the lake came at the city's June 19 council meeting.

"When African-Americans within the city attempted to open Willcox Lake to everyone, Petersburg's all-white City Council instead decided to shut down the entire lake," Petersburg officials said in a news release. "The fight went to federal court, but the city removed all funding for the lake's budget."

After last week's vote, the city's mayor, Sam Parham, said "This action was long overdue, and I am proud that we were able to bring it back to the light and to do it as a unified council."

Petersburg officials said city staff will now conduct tests to determine whether or not recreational swimming can return to Willcox Lake.

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