Starke County Park Board Seeking Grant Funding for Forest Access Project

The Starke County Forest may soon get some parking upgrades. The county park board is applying for a grant from the Hardesty Memorial Foundation Fund at the Starke County Community Foundation to help improve access to the forest.

County Attorney Marty Lucas put the grant application together, based on some priorities identified by the park board back in January, “To improve the road, improve parking, signage,” he explained. “And we made an application for $15,000 or some alternatives that would be a little bit less than that.”

The project would upgrade the existing access trail into a 20-foot gravel road, ending at a 10-to-12-car parking lot. “If we get this, that road will be dedicated as a county road, and so the County Highway Department would be able to maintain it henceforth, plow it – it’ll be a low-priority plow, but they’ll keep it plowed out when they can – and of course, they’ll build it actually up to specifications on things like base and all that,” he said. “So you shouldn’t have problems with the roots poking through anymore. That would be like a cul-de-sac at the end there, and it’ll double as a parking lot is the plan.”

Forester Bruce Wakeland told the park board Tuesday that he’s excited about the board’s efforts. He also asked to be involved in the design process, to avoid cutting down some valuable walnut trees.

Lucas said he should know if the county’s been selected for the grant by the park board’s March 13 meeting.