The Starke County Forest will get $15,000 worth of improvements this spring, thanks to a grant from the Hardesty Memorial Endowment Fund. The funding was formally presented to the Starke County Park Board Tuesday by Starke County Community Foundation Director of Development Sarah Origer and Northern Indiana Community Foundation Executive Director Jay Albright.
The goal of the project is to improve access and signage at the forest. That will include upgrading the existing access trail into a gravel road, ending at a 10-to-12-car parking lot.
County Attorney Marty Lucas said the Starke County Highway Department is still working on the specific plans. “Actually, I was kind of hoping we’d be a little further along, but I think they’ve been pretty busy with all the flooding,” he said. “The time-frame that was being discussed was kind of dependent on weather, which has not been good so far, but assuming that we don’t have any more giant floods, the time-frame was to have it done by June at the latest but hopefully earlier than that.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the community foundation representatives also presented the park board with a $5,000 grant for improvements to the Bass Lake Beach. The Community Support Grant will help with efforts to prevent and repair sand erosion.
Origer told board members that grants like these are a result of years of donations at the Starke County Community Foundation. “The community foundation is a true endowment,” she said. “The dollars that are donated are invested, and it’s a portion of the earnings that have come back year after year after year, that are making these two grants possible.”
Since $5,000 won’t cover the whole cost of the Bass Lake Beach project, the Starke County Park Board is also exploring other grant opportunities. Board President Roger Chaffins said the county is still waiting for the results of its application for $2,500 from Kankakee Valley REMC’s Operation Round Up program. But the park board’s request for $5,000 from Arrowhead Country Resource Conservation and Development has been denied.