The Starke County Park Board is moving ahead with a couple grant applications for a Yellow River access site at Range Road. The project involves the construction of a gravel lane and parking area, as well as an EZ dock kayak launch, for a cost of just over $53,000.
Carolla Heilstedt, who’s been coordinating the project, gave an update to the park board Tuesday. The goal is to get at least $20,000 in matching grants through the state’s Place Based Investment Fund, but that depends on a couple things.
To come up with the local share, the county’s looking to get a separate grant for nearly $10,000 from the Starke County Community Foundation. The rest of the match would come from the county commissioners, who’ve agreed to chip in nearly $11,000 as a cash donation. But Heilstedt said it’s not entirely clear that county funding would qualify as a local match, since the Place Based Investment Fund requires a partnership with multiple organizations.
At the same time, she’s taking steps to make the application more competitive, if it is able to cross those hurdles. “Initially, without adding accessibility markers to this request, we were eligible but not competitive, Heilstedt explained. “So we were not unique enough. We were just another board launch. So one of the things that they discussed is they’ve had a prior grant approval for an ADA-accessible site, which we can do.”
Heilstedt added that the new access site would tie in well with other efforts on the Yellow River. “I found out from the surveyor’s office they’re actually doing a bank stabilization and an erosion control project utilizing tow wood to stabilize the bank,” she said. “This has the happy side effect of create a habitat for smallmouth bass. So I’m also including that as a part of the grant, that, you know, that may be a potential draw, as well.”
In addition to the cash donation, Starke County has also offered to excavate, grade, and prep the site, which would be worth nearly $10,000. Steve and Kathy Lucas have agreed to donate wayfinding signage, which isn’t covered by the grant, plus $1,000 in cash.
Heilstedt said the project has also gotten the support of several organizations, including the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. She was also looking for last-minute letters of support from any other interested individuals or organizations. They may be sent to the Starke County Auditor’s Office.
Both grant applications were formally approved by the Starke County Park Board Tuesday. They expect to find out whether they’ve received the Community Foundation grant tomorrow morning. Then, the application for the Place Based Investment Fund grant is due tomorrow afternoon.