Starke County Park Board Considers Grant Opportunities

The Bass Lake Beach and Starke County Forest would stand to benefit from some grant opportunities being explored by the Starke County Park Board. A few funding sources were discussed during Tuesday’s meeting.

Up to $5,000 is available through Arrowhead Country Resource Conservation and Development, but board members only have a few days to turn in an application. Board member Roger Chaffins thought improvements to the Bass Lake Beach would have a good chance of getting the grant. “I don’t know what the cost is to fix the concrete in the front plus bring the stone in plus bring the sand in for the beach,” he said. “That, to me, would be more of a jibing thing of what they would look at better, I would think, if we could try that right away.”

Those repairs and upgrades have been discussed for several months, but so far the county government and beach operator Callahan Development, LLC haven’t finalized arrangements for the work. Since the park board doesn’t have its own budget, county employees’ labor could possibly be used as a local match, while the grant itself would pay for materials.

Meanwhile, County Attorney Marty Lucas said he was approached by representatives of a charitable fund who are interested in supporting the Starke County Forest. “This isn’t a formal application,” he explained. “This is just talk. And I don’t know, they may say they’re not interested. But I just want to have ideas that you all think are a good idea that are very practical.”

Board members’ top priority for the forest was doubling the size of the parking area, to fit at least 12 vehicles. Their second choice was to reinforce a dike in the park. Other ideas included the installation of signage, trash bins, or benches.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, park board member Debbie Mix suggested revisiting a plan to add an ADA-accessible kayak launch to the Yellow River. The county has been unsuccessful at getting a grant for the project in the past, but Mix pointed out that all the necessary information has already been gathered. “That was already put together,” she said, “and there’s already $500 sitting there for us at the Community Foundation because that was a part of the grant application last year.”

Mix also suggested several other projects to consider for future grant applications, such as upgrades to the Bass Lake Beach House, extending the North Judson Erie Trail to the Monterey area, and installing signage for various county attractions along area highways.