Starke County Park Board May Consider Taking Ownership of Koontz Lake Lions Club Park (10/12)

posted Oct 12, 2017, 8:20 AM by North Judson-Wayne Township Public Library
Posted on October 12, 2017
Author Michael Gallenberger, WKVI 

Koontz Lake Lions Club Memorial Park could soon be under county ownership. The Lions Club bought the site in the 1970s and has been running it as a park ever since. But with declining membership, club member Van Janovic approached the Starke County Park Board Tuesday to discuss the possibility of gradually handing the park over to the county. “There’s going to come a time when we’re going to have difficulties in keeping this park and maintaining it,” he said. “So the say we’re approaching you now is just in a discussion mode, as to wonder if this board would be interested in the future – that may be years from now – to begin to take over ownership.”

Meanwhile, the Lions Club plans to keep maintaining the park, for as long as it can. Starke County does not currently have a budget for park maintenance.

One big benefit of giving the park to the county is that it would relieve the Lions Club of having to pay for the park’s insurance. Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas said a cooperative agreement could be a win-win for both groups. “Based on what I’ve seen, if the county was the insurer, and almost like you had the Lions continue to be like the Friends of the Park there or whatever and continue to do the maintenance, that could be a huge savings possibly,” he said. “So I think that would be a great place to start, to look at, just simply, what kind of arrangement would allow your organization to be relieved of that insurance. Then, when you had some money, you could put it into upgrades or maintenance, instead.” Lucas expects that it what it would cost for the county to add the park to its insurance would be less than what the Lions Club is currently paying.

Koontz Lake Lions Club Memorial Park contains a playground, shelter, basketball court, and lighted baseball field. Janovic said it’s the only park of its kind in Oregon Township. “It’s been there a long time. It’s popular within the community. And we continue to make improvements on it and keep it up, and we think it’s a real asset to the community there. And we enjoy that part of our public service, as Lions.”

While the park board was not asked to make any decisions Tuesday, discussions are expected to continue.