By 1940, economic conditions in Petersburg and across the nation had improved to the point that many New Deal programs were gradually phased out, and the WPA ceased funding the Lee Park Wildflower Sanctuary and Bird Sanctuary. The Walnut Hill neighborhood, just north of the park, had developed rapidly as one of the most fashionable areas in the city to live and streetcar access ensured a steady stream of visitors to the park. No longer serving as a reservoir, Willcox Lake was developed into a public swimming area complete with diving boards, slides, boats and a bathing pavilion. Up until 1953, Lee Memorial Park was extremely popular with the white residents of Petersburg. In 1954, rather than accept integration, the City chose to close the Willcox Lake swimming area. Over the next two decades, the city sold land to developers and other interests, reducing the park’s size to 330 acres. To curb rising crime and maintenance costs in the park’s more secluded areas, the city closed a major section of the park road to vehicles, and visitation steadily declined.