Residents Offer Input on Starke County Parks Strategic Plan

Bass Lake CampgroundThe consulting firm that’s working with the Starke County Park Board to develop a five-year master plan for parks and recreation is confident they can meet next month’s deadline to complete a draft document.

Representatives from the Mishawaka-based Troyer Group met last night with residents interested in offering their input on the process. Before breaking into groups, the consultants explained the DNR requires a master plan in order to be eligible for various parks and recreation grants. In addition to meeting those guidelines, the plan will guide the growth and development of Starke County’s parks.

The draft plan is due to the DNR by Jan. 15, with a final version to be submitted by April 15. Such a document is a priority action list based on community needs and demographics.

Suggestions offered by attendees include making the Bass Lake Beach and Campground a first-class recreational spot for both residents and tourists and improving several of the other public areas around the lake.

Another high priority is continued development of trails in and around North Judson, including a spur to connect the existing trail to the lake. Public access to the Yellow River for canoeing and kayaking was also suggested as a way to draw visitors to the community and encourage people who live here to take advantage of natural resources.

The park board is also looking at Koontz Lake and the Starke County Forest as assets in its inventory. A lack of knowledge of the forest prompted a discussion of adding better signage to direct people to the county’s attractions as well as finding a way to market the entire county parks system.

Those suggestions and others will be incorporated into the draft plan, which will be presented to the public during a meeting in late January.