By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Representatives of a Minneapolis-based firm plan to be in Havre early next year to start studying the possibility of building a special-events center here.
Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp., said Tuesday the local committee examining the idea selected Conventions, Sports & Leisure International to conduct the study, at a cost of $35,000.
Tuss said the committee is waiting to see what the recommendations of the study are, whether it's to go ahead with the project as planned, change the scope or purpose of the project, or give up the idea.
"If it says we shouldn't do this, we will have to have a pretty serious conversation about what we should do," Tuss said. "If it says we should do it, we need another serious conversation about what the next step is."
Representatives of local government, businesses, public schools and Montana State University-Northern have been investigating building the center, which could host events like high school and collegiate athletic tournaments, semiprofessional sporting events, theater productions, conventions, trade shows and concerts.
Bill Krueger, CSL's team leader for the project, said today the study will present the best option for Havre, ranging from building a multipurpose facility, building a smaller facility to use in conjunction with existing buildings, or building nothing if the community resources and demand would not support it.
"The last thing we want to see is a community move forward and build a white elephant," he said. "It all gets down to what is best for the community. We want to provide a scenario that's realistic."
CSL started its work on the project this week, after it was awarded the contract right around Christmas, Krueger said.
The CSL team will spend several days in Havre in the next month or so meeting with members of the committee and representatives of the schools, university and local businesses, including hotels, motels and restaurants. The company is working with the committee to arrange the best time to visit.
The team will then start conducting in-depth interviews and analyzing data about issues including local resources, demand for an events center, possible events that could be hosted, and what the needs of potential users would be for accommodations like seating and hotel space.
Krueger said CSL expects the initial report to be finished in about 13 to 15 weeks, with a final report and community presentation at the end of March or beginning of April.
The city of Havre budgeted $20,000 of its Community Development Block Grant money to pay for the study, and received a $15,000 grant from the state Department of Commerce's CDBG planning fund.
CSL is teaming with the Billings-based firm CTA Architects and Engineers to conduct the study.
The committee includes the Hill County Commission, Havre Mayor Bob Rice, MSU-Northern Chancellor Alex Capdeville and athletics director Byron Ophus, Havre Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller, and representatives of Bear Paw Development Corp. and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
Six firms submitted proposals. The committee interviewed two of them before picking CSL.
The other candidate interviewed was the architectural and engineering firm L'Heureux Page Warner of Great Falls, which teamed up with Paradigm Consulting of Buffalo, N.Y., and Thomas, Dean and Hoskins of Great Falls to submit its proposal.
County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said both proposals were very good, but she was impressed by CSL's experience.
"I liked the fact that they have done similar projects, like in Junction City, Colorado," she said, adding that that project was very similar to what the Havre committee has in mind.
"We don't know what will come back. We just hope it's positive, and we'll work with whatever they give us," she said. "I think what we'll get back is what will fit the community and the area."
CSL was formed in 1988 and has done studies on building more than 350 facilities for conventions, conferences, events and public assemblies. The studies have been conducted for communities ranging from St. Louis, Las Vegas, New York and Mexico City to Helena, Watertown, S.D., and Fargo, N.D.