CARTHAGE, Ill. -- Efforts to bring a bowling alley back to Carthage are drawing to a close, and, within a few weeks, the attraction will open to the public.
After the Dollar General store moved to the east side of the city almost five years ago, the owner put the building up for lease or sale.
"He, the property manager and I talked about a bowling center," said Amy Graham, Carthage community development director. "The property manager located bowling equipment in North Carolina, and the installation began a year ago."
Graham said the project is reaching its final stages, with about six weeks of work left before the facility can open its doors.
"We used to have one (in Carthage), but it burnt in the mid-'90s," Graham said. "It was always a busy place. People in our community really miss having a bowling alley."
The new bowling center will have eight lanes, an arcade and a snack bar. It will also have a liquor license to sell beer and wine.
"Families are excited to have something else to do in Carthage," Graham said. "Having it available for our kids is extremely important. I'm hoping it will be an endeavor the community will embrace."
Carthage Community Development, in partnership with the Illinois Cooperative Development Center, will hold a town meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, in the Carthage City Council chambers. The meeting will be an opportunity to educate the community and answer any questions they may have, Graham said. Also discussed will be the prospects of establishing a cooperative for the project.
"The (owner) wants to eventually turn it over to the community. Having it locally owned and operated is the end goal," Graham said. "There is a lot of talk about this, and a lot of people seem to be interested."
Graham said it is "relatively new to do a cooperative-type plan for this type of business." She said the project will improve Carthage's "quality of life and social captial. We are building on our current assets and adding to them."
The Illinois Cooperative Development Center helps start cooperatives in Illinois through a combination of technical assistance, training and publications. Its services are free. The center is a program of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University and is funded by USDA Rural Development.