By Tim Leeds
The Havre City Council, during its meeting on Monday, July 3, tabled the issue of trading land to the State of Montana for possession of the property that Hillside Trailer Court is located on until after further discussion of the council as a whole is possible.
The council tabled the issue until a meeting set at 7 p.m., July 17, where the issue can be fully discussed. Concern was expressed by both council members and members of the audience about what would happen to the 40-some families currently living in the court if the trade is made.
The state acquired the land, located across from Fleet Wholesale Supply and west of the Havre water treatment plant, from owner Marcel Thiel to allow personnel to work on supporting the hillside and repairing the highway. The highway was scheduled to be worked on as part of the Havre West Project before the hillside gave way, requiring the work to be done ahead of schedule.
The state has now offered to trade the property to the city for property behind the old Kmart location, at 2100 U.S. Highway 2 E.
Councilman Arnold Tyler said he is concerned about the city either taking on the responsibility of landlord to the families in the court, or in displacing them by forcing them to move. He said many of the families own their own trailers in the park, but would not be able to pay the fee, usually about $5,000 or $6,000, to move the trailers. He said there are not enough trailer lots available in the city to take all of the trailers in the park if they had to relocate.
Council President Helen Hill said that if the city takes ownership of the property, having the tenants move off of the property would probably become an issue, although not necessarily immediately.
Councilwoman Emily Mayer-Lossing said she is concerned about liability issues for the city if it takes ownership of the property.
Councilman Rick Pierson said that he feels action should not be taken on the issue until further discussion could be taken in full committee.
Annmarie Robinson of the Bear Paw Development Corporation North Montana said that the state intends to sell the property, and is making the first offer to the city. She said if the city does not buy the property, it will be placed on the market by the state for closed bids. She said the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad is interested in buying the property.
Robinson said whoever buys the property is likely to require the current tenants to move, even if the City of Havre does not.
Hill said her understanding is that the offer to the city was made primarily for two main reasons. She said the proximity of the property to the water plant would be convenient for future expansion of that facility. She said the other is for safety of the children currently living in the park in close proximity to the railroad track. She said the idea is that moving the tenants of the court might be safer for the children.
The full council may take action on the issue after it is discussed in full committee on July 17.
In other action, the council:
- Tabled the request by Don Burtchett to appeal the decision of the loan committee to refuse his loan for repair of his home.
Burtchett said since he owns his home, but is not making enough income to move to a new home at this point, denying the loan and condemning his home will, in effect, be forcing him to live on the street. He said he has made progress on the conditions required by the loan committee, cleaning up the yard and making progress on past due bills and taxes. He said he will be able to finish paying off the bills and current and other past due taxes in the near future. He said he would be able to make the payments on the loan he requested, allowing him to make required improvements to the property.
Robinson said Burtchett has missed several deadlines and extensions in proving compliance with the conditions required by the loan committee. She said he has not provided a plan of action to the committee to show how he will become current on all debts listed by the committee, and at the time of the last meeting had not shown that the yard for the property had been cleaned up, which was one of the reasons the property was cited as a public nuisance.
The council approved tabling the request until it could meet in full committee at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 10, to discuss the issue in full.
- Approved using the traditional route of the parade for Festival Days, from Havre High School down Fifth Avenue to First Street, west to Third Avenue on First Street, then south on Third Avenue to Fourth Street, where the parade will disperse.
- Approved a resolution affirming active participation in the Bear Paw Economic Development District.
- Approved a resolution establishing a permit fee of $260 for disposal of wastewater from spill recovery sites or underground tanks into the city sewage systems.