By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Three projects are competing for Hill County's latest installment of federal gas tax grants.
Today was the last day for people to submit proposals to the Hill County Commission for Community Transportation Enhancement Program grants.
CTEP money is raised through gas taxes and is distributed by the Montana Department of Transportation. Hill County has about $60,000 in leftover CTEP money available, although this year's allocation "will boost that (figure) considerably," Commission Chair Pat Conway said today. The total amount hasn't been determined.
The money will be used for projects relating to surface transportation or beautification of areas on public land near high-traffic areas. Current CTEP projects include landscaping at the Havre Ice Dome and upgrades to Sixth Avenue Memorial Field. Past projects have included repairing the roof at the Heritage Center and a major sidewalk reconstruction on First Street.
The projects require a local match of 13.4 percent.
Craig Erickson of Bear Paw Development Corp., who administers CTEP funding for Hill County, could not be reached for comment today.
Over the past month, the commissioners have heard a total of four proposals. They are: renovating a chapel in Beaver Creek Park; replacing the sprinkler system in Kremlin City Park; building a sidewalk along Country Road 651 West from Second Street West to Boulevard Avenue; and replacing windows on the second floor of the Heritage Center.
Now that the proposals have been made, the commissioners will try to get estimates on the costs of the projects, Conway said. After that, the commission will select one or more of the projects for funding based on a number of considerations, he said.
The commissioners will determine if the project is within the county's budget, if a local match can be made, whether one large project or several smaller ones should be funded, and whether the projects have been sufficiently researched, Conway said.
The local match can include work in-kind, such as providing labor and equipment, he added.
The first project heard by the commissioners was a request last month to renovate a chapel building at the Kiwanis Campground in Beaver Creek Park. Havre appraiser Dave Anderson made the proposal to the commission.
The County Commission has determined the project does not qualify for CTEP funding, Conway said.
The chapel would have to be visible from State Highway 234 to be eligible for CTEP funds. The chapel does not meet that requirement, Conway said. Anderson conceded today that it's "pretty questionable" whether the chapel can be seen from the highway.
He said he would still like to see something happen to the chapel even it isn't funded by a CTEP grant. He has met with an engineer to discuss renovations, and has identified alternative sources of funding, he said. In the meantime, "We're looking at the possibility of putting a chain-link fence around it," he said. "It does come down to an issue of safety. There's a lot of kids playing out there in the summer."
The 70-year-old chapel is in a state of deterioration, Erickson has said.
Another project proposed to the commission is replacing the underground sprinkler system in Kremlin City Park. Water froze in the system and damaged it last winter, said project spokesman Butch Marshall. Marshall serves on Kremlin's park board and is also the park's caretaker.
The park "is starting to look stressed right now" as a result of not having a sprinkler system, Marshall said.
The estimated cost of replacing the system in the 42,000-square-foot city park is $20,000.
Annmarie Robinson of Bear Paw Development proposed that CTEP money be used to build a sidewalk on the road that connects Second Street West to Boulevard Avenue, Conway said.
Robinson could not be reached for comment.
The last project proposed to the commission is installing energy-efficient windows on the second floor of the Heritage Center. Windows on the first floor were replaced several years ago.
H. Earl Clack Museum Foundation board member Elaine Morse made the proposal. Morse said previously that replacing the windows would lower the building's monthly utility costs.
Conway said the commission will decide within the next month which of the proposals to fund.