Bass Lake Man Requests County Vacate Dilapidated Scoville Alleyway

Bass Lake Property Owners Association building
An alley behind this building was a topic of discussion at this week’s Starke County Commissioners meeting.

An overgrown, unmaintained alleyway near the Bass Lake Property Owner’s Association building was a topic of discussion at the Starke County Commissioners meeting this week, as James Mol of Bass Lake approached them with a simple request: let him purchase the dilapidated alleyway which he currently maintains. However, nothing in government is that easy, and Mol learned that he would have to file a petition with the county, who would then be required to send notices of the petition via certified mail to all owners of property abutting the alleyway, hold a public hearing, and await a decision from the county as to whether or not they would vacate the property. To his dismay, Mol would be responsible for all related expenses.

The Scoville Alleyway, located just behind the BLPOA building, was once designated as a county road, giving the county highway department jurisdiction over it. Since then, however, the alleyway has effectively been abandoned and has not been maintained by the county in many years. Mol said he has lived in a property adjacent to the alleyway for 23 years and has taken up the task of maintaining it, and now he’s interested in calling it his own, or splitting it with his neighbors whose properties are also connected to the alleyway.

Mol said his interest in the alleyway stemmed from an incident that occurred a few years ago, when he said a branch from a dying willow tree in the alleyway snapped during a storm and nearly fell on his home. That’s when he became curious as to who would have been responsible for the damage; unfortunately, a survey into the property owner of the alleyway would have cost roughly $400, he said, and he and his neighbors decided to just split the cost of having the tree removed.

The commissioners told Mol to research current ordinances regarding his request, and Mol said he has yet to decide whether or not to proceed with the lengthy – and likely expensive – process of having the county vacate the property and allow him to purchase it.