The Starke County Park Board continues to demand documentation of the Bass Lake Beach and Campground’s condition. County Building Inspector Terry Stephenson visited the property in December, but hasn’t provided a formal inspection report, as requested by Park Board President Debbie Mix.
As it stands, Bass Lake Beach and Campground operator Callahan Development, LLC is set to proceed with an automatic extension of its lease with the county. Mix believes the county may have a chance to get out of the lease, if Callahan is officially found to be in violation.
During Tuesday’s park board meeting, County Attorney Marty Lucas said the issue may boil down to how to create an inspection report if there isn’t an associated building permit. “We got a response,” he explained. “I took the response as being that there wasn’t really a permit and so there wasn’t a formal report.”
Some of those in attendance Tuesday questioned how many of the issues at the Beach and Campground were Callahan’s fault and how many of them existed beforehand. During the meeting, Mix presented photographic evidence of how the site appeared shortly after Callahan took over, which appears to show that at least some components were in much better shape. “Some of that is just fascia,” Mix explained. “It’s painting. It’s keeping it nice and neat. It means that that whole pavilion building was being used. It wasn’t not being used. And it had a working kitchen. It had sales of different items.”
Residents also asked what the park board plans to do if it is successful in getting out of its lease with Callahan. Mix assumed the county would simply lease the facility to another operator, but with more attention paid to the lease before it’s signed.
However, Lucas suggested that the county consider other options if and when the time comes. “I think a best practice nowadays is that if you have a property like this, you have several vendors,” he said. “You might have a contract with a restaurateur to run a restaurant in there. You might have somebody else running the campground. Somebody else might be running the facility that rents boats. And I think that maybe is a better approach, but once again, we’re not in that situation right now.”
Several of those in attendance Tuesday pointed out that Callahan has made at least some improvements to the facility in recent months. However, many agree that it’s not being used to its full potential.