Starke Park Board Discusses Stellar Communities Application, Bass Lake Beach Restrooms

A Stellar Community designation could be a way to bring improvements to the Bass Lake Beach. That was the suggestion given to the Starke County Park Board last week.

It came up when board member Butch Gerstandt asked if there were any plans to remodel the bathrooms in the beach house. Assistant Manager Larry Clarich and Board President Roger Chaffins felt that any such upgrades would be up to the county rather than the facility’s operator.

That’s when Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler suggested that the park board may want to get involved with the county’s Stellar application. He pointed out that the park board already has a five-year plan, and that the designation would bring grant opportunities with a smaller local match.

County Attorney Marty Lucas said the effort will depend on the results of a county income survey that began last week. “Really, we won’t know whether we’ll be able to go any further. We’re hopeful on that,” he said. “It seems like we should qualify. It’s hard to believe that there’s a grant for which Starke County is too wealthy. But officially, so far, it is. So we have to actually prove that it’s not.”

In the meantime, board member Rosemary Rose said there may be other resources available to upgrade the Bass Lake Beach House restrooms. “Places like Lowe’s and so forth, they will – if you fill out an application, if you need your bathroom set up for handicap accessibility,” she said. “They redid the bathrooms in the North Judson Legion, they redid the bathrooms in the Knox Legion, anything that’s nonprofit. Lowe’s and Menards both have those available, and it doesn’t have to come from the county. They will donate the money.”

County officials are eyeing a regional Stellar Community application for the 2019 designation cycle.