Starke County Park Board Discusses Bass Lake Beach Improvements Amid Calls for Lessee’s Removal

Bass Lake CampgroundThe Starke County Park Board continues to monitor improvements at the Bass Lake Beach and Campground. Assistant Manager Larry Clarich told the park board Tuesday that improvements to the facility’s well have been completed.

Additionally, Park Board President Roger Chaffins said he’s looking into some options for the removal of the beach’s old diving platform. “According to the state, the DNR or whoever it is, you can’t put anything in the water that’s mechanical, but we can pull it out of there,” Chaffins said. “So I was going to get a hold of Chuck Lovins, which he’s a rescue diver, and have him see what’s underneath there, what we’re dealing with, what the structure is, so that we could possibly get a hold of somebody with a dozer or something and cable it or winch it out.”

It was also reported that some local residents plan to hold a raffle next month to raise money to repair or rebuild the property’s pavilion. Last month, the park board called for its demolition, citing safety concerns and a lack of county funds to make repairs.

There was also some discussion Tuesday about restroom facilities at the Bass Lake Beach. Clarich said that when Richard Callahan began leasing the property from the county, there was only one working restroom. Now, Clarich says all public restrooms work. However, there was some debate as to which facilities qualify as public restrooms and which are intended to be off-limits to visitors. Clarich says some additional signs will be posted to help clarify the issue.

Meanwhile, some Bass Lake residents continued to voice their displeasure of the condition of the Bass Lake Beach under the Callahan’s management. Rick Anderson felt that Callahan’s failure to maintain the beach to a certain level of quality is a clear violation of his lease. “There is little sign of a first-class beach, as showcased by a main pavilion that’s closed to food service and is in disrepair,” Anderson said. “You can probably go in there and look at item after item which has not been maintained: doors, hinges, blah, blah, blah. Our beach has instead been replaced by what looks to be a marina. There’s no mention of a marina in the lease.”

However, Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas dismissed suggestions that Callahan simply be removed from the property. “I’m going to be blunt. This is a nation of laws,” Lucas said. “I don’t know if you knew about that or not, but this is a nation of laws. They have contract rights, and we don’t just shut things down. It doesn’t work that way. You know, they haven’t voluntarily closed the place. They haven’t said, ‘Oh no. We agree we’re in violation and we want to shut down,’ so it’s not that simple, okay? It’s just not that simple. Maybe it works that way somewhere else, but around here we do, you know, try to obey the rule of law.”

Lucas added that any such eviction would require a judge’s order and said there are many sides of the issue that would need to be taken into account.