By Ross Markman
The Havre City Council Monday night authorized Bear Paw Development Corp. to apply for a grant to help pay the cost of building a skateboard park in Havre.
The grant is for $24,900.
There are two catches, according to Paul Tuss, Bear Paw's executive director. The funds must be matched by the city dollar for dollar and the council must designate a location by July 1, the deadline for Tuss to apply for the grant.
"This grant is very competitive," Tuss said. "It's one of the only sources of grant money that can be used for outdoor recreation purposes. And Montana has only $500,000 in its pot for this."
The grant fund is administered by the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The city, Tuss said, could know by late summer if it will receive the money.
"Oftentimes, you're not successful the first time," he said. "But because you've made an effort, if you were to apply the next year, there is some added consideration toward the application."
As for a location, Havre parks and recreation director Dave Wilson said it's been narrowed to two choices First Bank Park near the Montana State University-Northern practice football field and Robert Patterson Memorial Park across the street from Legion Field.
"I think it's adequate for what we're looking at for this community. It has the potential and has pretty good location," Wilson said of Patterson Park, at the corner of 11th Avenue and Ninth Street.
"I think everybody can get to this," he added. "I don't want to place (the skate park) in just a location by itself."
Wilson couldn't pinpoint how much the skateboarding facility would cost. Tuss agreed, but said it could have a price tag of as much as $150,000 to $200,000.
In applying for this grant, the city is asking for a fraction of that amount.
"It doesn't make sense to me to ask for $100,000 if we have to match it," Havre Mayor Bob Rice said. "I was conservative. I think we can match it."
"The good thing Bob is doing is he isn't being overly optimistic in the amount of money he'll be able to raise," he said.
Janine Donoven, treasurer of the Havre Skateboarding Association, estimated the cost for the equipment and obstacles to be between $70,000 and $75,000 based on the wish list of the kids in the group.
"I think that's a gigantic step forward," Donoven said today of the grant application. "The frustration in the past is there wasn't any progress going forward. Now we have a City Council that's embraced the idea."
Donoven said she had hoped the location of the skateboard park would be on Fifth Avenue near Taco John's.
"In my own thinking, I thought Taco John's was an ideal location based on some of the things already there," she said "But as far as I'm concerned, the city is positive about it. If they think these locations would work into their plans, then I'm all for it."
And so are many people in Havre, according to Tuss. In addition to a petition signed by more than 1,400 people last fall, Havre resident Chuck Grant spearheaded an effort to collect 200 more signatures last week.
"It looks like overwhelming support for this in the community," Tuss said.
In March, Rice said, the Havre Police Association committed $1,000 toward the project and the Havre Rotary said it would likely chip in $2,000.
Another effort to secure funds for the park was nixed last week. Rice and City Council president Rick Pierson wanted to transfer $43,000 of federal dollars to the skate park efforts but learned that skateboard parks don't meet the criteria for funding from the Community Transportation Enhancement Program. The money is earmarked for the renovation of the Sixth Avenue Ballpark parking lot.
Through CTEP, the Federal Highway Administration distributes money for projects ranging from landscaping to sidewalk maintenance to historic preservation.