Big upgrades could be coming to the Bass Lake Beach, if Constellation of Starke gets its Stellar Community designation. During Tuesday’s Starke County Park Board Meeting, Board Member Rik Ritzler said several ideas have been thrown around.
“Some of the initial planned things we’ve been discussing and it looks like we’re going to talk to the architect about is having a hub where the existing building is, kind of a circular thing, where the entrance area, vendors areas, classroom areas, right in that hub area,” he said, “and then the south side of it would be a big great room with ceiling-to-floor windows, maybe, that arches up, that you could use for indoor concerts, a reading room, a history room. People having outdoor picnics, when it rains, they could come inside, and maybe even windows that open up there.”
The other side might feature a water park area, with a boardwalk running the length of the entire beach and a new main pier extending into the lake. “We’re talking about re-branding it, maybe the Winchetonqua Lodge at Bass Lake, which is the old name of Bass Lake was Winchetonqua,” Ritzler added, “and make it kind of in the style of the old national park lodges, the grand lodges, like at Yellowstone, obviously on a smaller scale, but that kind of feeling.”
As planning continues, the park board may revisit the idea of taking control of the beach itself from its current lessee, Callahan Development, LLC, while the company could keep operating the campground and pier slips. County Attorney Marty Lucas noted that Callahan had been open to that in the past, and the potential Stellar funding could allow it to happen. “We do need to have something in writing from him, just for the Stellar application, if nothing else,” Lucas explained. “We have to be able to establish that we have rights to do it.”
It was pointed out that Callahan would have to be involved in the discussions with Constellation of Starke going forward. If the improvements were to happen, the park board would likely have to hire an employee or find a contractor to operate the facility.
Ritzler said the potential Bass Lake improvements are already getting local support. “I do believe the commissioners are behind it,” he said. “The Bass Lake Property Owners are behind it. They already said that they would provide matching funds for the project. So this is a good thing.”
The park board agreed to let County Attorney Lucas and Park Board President Richard Ballard begin conversations with Callahan’s attorney, with the goal of coming up with a memorandum that could be included with the Stellar application.