By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre City Council's Finance Committee wants the Montana Department of Transportation to review the sole bid the city received in its latest effort to sell the Heritage Center.
The city received a bid of $5,000, with a $500 deposit, from Tom and Jamie Lambrecht by the Jan. 18 deadline. The city used $89,600 from the state's Community Transportation Enhancement Program to purchase the former post office and courthouse from the U.S. Postal Service in 1996.
The committee on Monday voted unanimously to refer the bid to the full council and recommended the council seek the review from MDT.
Committee chair Tom Farnham said the committee members made the recommendation because the state has wanted to have input in the bidding process in the past. This fall, MDT put together a packet of specifications for the sale of the building.
"We're sending it to them again because they want to see that we get that CTEP money back," Farnham said. "(The state) wanted to have input."
If the historic building is sold, the money will go back into the CTEP pot available for Havre-area projects, he said. Previously, the funds have been used for improvements at the Hill County Fairgrounds and at Fort Assinniboine, among other projects.
"If we get that money back, it would go into the city of Havre CTEP funds," Farnham said. "It's really a very nice program."
The building had been leased by the Clack Foundation until July 1, when the foundation said it could no longer afford to operate it. The city has said it can't afford to operate the building either and has closed it down.
This is the third time the city has put the building up for bid, and the second time that it advertised statewide.
Lambrecht has said the couple wants to develop the facility as a professional office complex and cultural center.
In September, the Lambrechts came to the city with two proposals, one a public-private partnership in which the Lambrechts would pay the city $5,000, plus an additional cost match if the city applied for CTEP funds to fix the building's roof. The second offer was for $20,000, with the city having no further responsibilities for the building.
More recently, the city received a bid of $75,000 from Bob Nault and his silent partners. The Havre City Council had voted 5-4 on Dec. 6, with Mayor Bob Rice casting the deciding vote, in favor of not accepting any other bids until the council had reached a decision on Nault's bid.
The Northcentral Montana Community Ventures Coalition had submitted a letter of intent but no dollar bid, under the impression that a dollar bid wasn't required.
Later, at Nault's request, Rice decided out of concern for fairness to reject Nault's bid and restart the bidding process.
The Lambrecht bid was the only one submitted by the deadline.