Havre Daily News
The City of Havre is temporarily closing the walking path atop Bullhook Dike beause of concerns voiced by the city's liability insurance provider, Mayor Bob Rice said Monday.
The fear is that an errant radio-controlled airplane flown by members of the Saddle Butte RC Club could strike a pedestrian using the new walking path. A large section of the trail will be relocated, Rice told the club at a Monday meeting at City Hall.
Club members were the first to raise safety concerns last month after the city constructed a new sand path adjacent to the existing access road that runs east from Fifth Avenue along the top of the dike. The path went over land the club had leased from the city, and increased traffic brings more residents close to the club's airfield.
In the end, officials with Havre's liability insurance provider, Montana Municipal Insurance Authority, agreed. Rice said their objections convinced him to move the path.
"I looked at the whole picture, and the risk was too great for me," Rice said. "I'm not willing to take that risk."
Club president Max Hinrichs said members were still willing to work with the city to find a solution that would allow the club and the trail's users to cohabitate.
"We were still willing to leave the path in place," he said. "We were willing to negotiate, to work with them."
Rice said the club was not to blame for the trail's relocation.
"It's nobody's fault," he said. "We're not pointing fingers. I don't have any hard feelings. I don't think any of my staff does."
Havre City Council member and Parks and Recreation Committee chair Allen "Woody" Woodwick, who attended the meeting, said he still thinks the walking path is a great idea.
The city posted signs closing the trail Monday, Rice added. The fence at the entrance of the trail will be moved back to its original location, he added.
Rice said he was considering two possible locations for the new section of the trail. He may have city workers locate the trailhead behind the Havre Ice Dome. From there, it would run east with the existing 2 mile trail at about its midpoint, he said. Rice said he also spoke with Havre Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller, who said the city could use district-owned land east of Havre High School near 12th Avenue for the trail.
Miller said today he would work with the HPS school board in order to allowthe city to use a small parcel of land for the trail, if needed.
Bill Baltrusch, who donated materials for the trail, has offered to donate extra sand for the relocation, Rice said. City workers will attempt to salvage as much sand from the existing trail for use on the new section of trail, he added.
Work should begin on the trail as soon as the city gathers the materials, Havre public works director Dave Peterson said.
Rice noted that the trail has been very popular. The path was the occasion for and site of Havre's first Dam Bullhook run on Saturday, which had a good turnout, he said. The benefit event raised about $1,000 for improvements to the trail, Rice said.
Miller said he participated in the run and was impressed with the improvements that had been made.
"They've done a great deal of work on that trail, and it's a great asset to Havre," he said.