By Ross Markman
The search for funding continues.
A proposal to build a skateboard park in Havre with federal dollars already earmarked for the renovation of a parking lot has been nixed.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice, at a meeting last week with the Havre Skateboarders Association, recommended the city transfer about $43,000 of CTEP money allocated for repairs to the Sixth Avenue Ballpark parking lot to the efforts to build a skateboarding and in-line skating facility in Havre.
Skate parks, though, don't meet the criteria for CTEP funding, according to Craig Erickson, planner at Bear Paw Development Corp. Erickson oversees the city's Community Transportation Enhancement Program projects.
Through CTEP, the Federal Highway Administration distributes money for projects ranging from landscaping to sidewalk maintenance to historic preservation.
Havre received $53,949 in CTEP dollars this year, which boosted its CTEP balance to $92,662. The amount a city, town or county receives is based on a complicated formula with population a key factor, Erickson said.
Rice had hoped the skateboard park would fit under the CTEP umbrella. The money for the parking lot, he noted, was slated last spring, during Mayor Phyllis Leonard's last term in office. Rice said he never endorsed the project.
"You're talking about a softball park that probably 95 percent adults use. You're talking about a skateboard park that's all kids," he said. "I thought kids should get a little precedence here."
City Council president Rick Pierson, who also attended the skateboard meeting last week, agreed.
"If the CTEP funds would have been available for the skateboard park, I would have been in favor of it," he said. "But the money is still earmarked for the softball field. (The money is) going to be left alone."
Councilman Tom Farnham disagreed with shifting the CTEP allocation.
"We'd be working backwards. It's a year in the making, the paperwork is done and we're in the engineer's design stage," he said. "But I'm all in favor of a skateboard park, though."
The support to build the skate park is there, Rice said. Havre resident Charlie Grant spearheaded the effort to collect 200 signatures of people who supported the park's construction in Havre.
Rice has applied for a grant. He's writing letters to skateboarding organizations like the Tony Hawk Foundation, asking for help. He's also opened a savings account at Independence Bank in the name of the Skateboarders Association.
In March, Rice said, the Havre Police Association committed $1,000 toward the project and the Havre Rotary said they would likely chip in $2,000.
"I think it's probably time for us to have some type of fund-raiser," he said. "I think a lot of the businesses in town will contribute."
"I think that patience is something we're going to have to look at. It's going to take some time," he said. "As far as funding, we'll have to look at every avenue we possibly can. I really believe if we work at this we can make it a reality," he said.