By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Two grant-funded construction projects - a new sidewalk at the Hill County Fairgrounds and the beautification of Kremlin's community park - are being planned and could be finished as early as this fall.
Craig Erickson, the community planner for Bear Paw Development Corp., said the sidewalk project is a 750-foot cement path along the north edge of the fairgrounds.
"It'd be nice for people walking into the fairgrounds or who park on the north side of the fairgrounds to have that sidewalk," Erickson said Thursday. "It's a nice little enhancement."
The project has a price tag of about $30,000, of which all but $4,000 will be funded by federal gas tax revenues through the Community Transportation Enhancement Program. Under CTEP guidelines, local sources must provide a 13.4 percent match. The Great Northern Fair Board is providing the local match.
Erickson met Friday with county officials to discuss the placement of the sidewalk in relation to a proposed visitors center that may someday be built in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds.
"We just need(ed) to discuss the location of the sidewalk and make sure everyone's on the same page," he said. "We don't want to build a new sidewalk, and three years from now have to ear it down to build the visitors center."
The visitors center may also be built using grant funding, Erickson said, adding that possible sources include the CTEP program and another program through the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Hill County previously attempted to secure CTEP funding for the visitors center but was unsuccessful because the proposal also included office space for the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
"The one thing that was somewhat of a hangup is that CTEP funds are available for a visitors center, but you cannot have any outside offices there," Hill County Commissioner Pat Conway said. "It was too bad, because there was a lot of support for it."
Future proposals will either have to eliminate the office space or seek funding from sources other than CTEP, he added.
It would likely be several years before a visitors center is built, Erickson said.
"The struggle is what does it look like? Where are we going to put it? How much is it going to cost and where are we going to get the money?" he said.
CTEP funding has also been approved for revamping Kremlin's community park.
"That project involves the construction or installation of a sprinkler system, the construction of raised flower beds and removal of a concrete cistern," Erickson said. "It's a very simple, straightforward project."
It's expected to cost about $23,000, he added. The local match - $3,100 - is being covered by a local civic organization.
The fairgrounds sidewalk and Kremlin park projects were the only two proposals submitted by Hill County for CTEP funding last year. A proposal to restore a chapel in Beaver Creek Park was found to be ineligible because it cannot be seen from Montana Highway 234 and didn't meet criteria for the grant, which is aimed at surface transportation projects.
On the other hand, the Kremlin project did.
"Amtrak drives past Kremlin Park twice a day," Erickon said. "The philosophy is that by beautifying the park, you are enhancing the experience of the passengers on Amtrak."
Conway said it may be next year before the sidewalk and park projects are finished, though Erickson said he is optimistic that they will be completed this fall.