a big crowd
Havre Daily News
After a sometimes contentious meeting Monday night attended by more than 40 people - including members of the Saddle Butte RC Club, runners and city officials - the Havre City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee decided to forego making a decision to resolve a dispute involving land leased by the club atop Bullhook Dike and the city's new walking trail.
Instead, representatives of the groups and members of the City Council will sit down together to work out a solution to the problem.
The club says the part of the new walking trail built across land it has leased from the city since 1991 has increased pedestrian traffic on the path, bringing an increase in vandalism and a concern that someone could be hit by an out-of-control plane.
Speakers at the podium debated the pros and cons of moving the trail or putting up a fence to keep walkers and runners away from the club's runway.
"We're not opposed to the walking path, but it has become an issue," club vice president Chuck Evans said. "It puts the general public in jeopardy. People have to understand there's a risk involved."
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said he was opposed to using city money to construct a fence or move the path. "We haven't used city money for any of this," Rice said. "For us to move the path is ludicrous."
The materials for the path were donated by Baltrusch Construction.
Havre public works director Dave Peterson said it would cost money to move the path. He doubted it would be possible to pick up the existing trail and move it without also having to purchase extra materials. He also said he didn't think the path was a question for the committee to consider.
Council member Dana West disagreed.
"Because we have some concerns (from the public), we need to be involved," West said.
"What I'm saying is that some of these issues could be resolved before it gets to this point," Peterson said.
Havre assistant fire chief Tim Ranes said he's been running on the path for 35 years and there has never been a problem.
"I think that this is the start of something good," he said. "The mayor and the city have done a good thing. There's got to be some sort of compromise. To bicker over something like this is ridiculous."
Club member William Otto said the discussion of what to do with the path didn't need to devolve into an argument.
"I'm in favor of the walking path," Otto said. "It doesn't need to be a negative process. I think we can work something out."
Peterson said he believed a compromise could be worked out if the groups involved sat down at the table together.
Committee members West, Emily Mayer Lossing and chair Allen "Woody" Woodwick agreed at the close of the meeting to table the issue until the parties involved could come up with a solution amenable to all.
Walkers and runners have been using the trail atop Bullhook Dike for years. The city recently added new surfacing material to the trail. A portion of the trail was constructed next to an existing access road south of the Havre Ice Dome and crosses the land used by the Saddle Butte RC Club.