Starke County Park Board Discusses Rent Increase, Clarifications to Bass Lake Beach Lease

Members of the Starke County Park Board continue to call for clarifications to the Bass Lake Beach and Campground lease, and that could mean a rent increase for Callahan Development, LLC.

The company has already notified the county that it will exercise its option to renew its lease through April of 2028. But park board member Debbie Mix says there are still some things that need to be resolved. “I don’t think it should just happen without the board giving some kind of final something because some wording has to change, just because they’re not going to be receiving another 10 years,” Mix said during Tuesday’s meeting. “So that portion has to be taken out.”

“No, that doesn’t have to be taken out,” replied County Attorney Marty Lucas. “There was one option to renew. It doesn’t become two options to renew.”

Lucas said that while the park board could propose changes at any time, that doesn’t impact Callahan’s right to renew the lease as it is. Lucas agreed that some clarification would help, though. “There is actually one thing, now that you raise it,” he said. “I think the issue about exactly what the increase in the rent will be is something that we need to sort out with them.”

Up until now, Callahan’s actual rent payment has been significantly reduced, to compensate the company for capital improvements to the property. But what exactly qualifies as a capital improvement as opposed to normal maintenance has been a topic of debate.

Mix thought that should be specified in the lease, but Board President Roger Chaffins wasn’t so sure. “As far as repairs, that unfortunately has to be decided by us, when you do stuff,” Chaffins said. “That’s our decision, and we’d have to work out. I mean, it’s a sad situation, I’m sorry, but we just have to work it out.”

Chaffins did agree that the rent needs to go up, though. Further complicating matters is the ongoing discussion about splitting the Bass Lake Beach and Campground into separate operations, but that conversation is still in early stages.

In the end, board member Rosemary Rose agreed to meet with Callahan’s representatives to discuss a possible rent increase and other issues that may come up. Lucas pointed out that anything they agree upon would then have to go before the full park board for approval.