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Havre City Council rejects bid for Fort Assinniboine project


Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily News/[email protected]

The Havre City Council has rejected last week's construction bid to stabilize the foundation of the post traders building at Fort Assinniboine.

"Quite frankly as it now stands the local match is not available," Bear Paw Development Corp. planner Craig Erickson told the council Monday night before the vote.

Erickson said neither of the two parties involved in coming up with the $12,000 local match - the Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association and the Northern Agricultural Research Station - would be able to come up with the money. He also advised the council not to readvertise the project in an effort to get a lower bid.

A 13.42 percent local match is required before the city can vote to release CTEP funds, federal funds that are distributed through the Montana Department of Transportation. About $33,000 in CTEP funds were originally approved for the project.

The lone bid of $94,327, from Boland Well Systems Inc. of Great Falls, was more than $20,000 more than the engineering estimate, and more than $50,000 more than the city had budgeted for the project.

The unexpectedly high bid meant that the local match would be about $7,000 more than originally expected.

"We were looking at the fort group kicking in a couple thousand and the ag station kicking in a couple thousand, but there's no way we can come up with that kind of money, Gary Wilson, chair of the fort association, said this morning.

"It's very frustrating because that place needs about $200,000," Wilson said. "I don't know what's going to happen."

The fort association, which offers tours at the historic fort, hopes to preserve its deteriorating buildings.

Wilson said representatives of the Northern Agricultural Research Station, which is based at the fort, and the fort association will probably meet with Erickson to decide what to do next.

"We'd have to see if it's salvageable," he said. "It may be a dead end."

Havre Mayor Bob Rice and several council members expressed concern about the risks of using CTEP funding to save the 120-year-old building after Erickson told them that "this $94,000 would do little more than keep the walls from falling in."

"Well, I'll tell you what I told Craig Erickson this afternoon," Rice said. "I told him to cancel the project."

Rice told the council members it was their decision, but said, "I just don't see where the match is coming from."

"We can't throw cash into what may become a money pit," council chair Rick Pierson agreed.

"We just don't have enough money to make a significant impact at this fort, not with CTEP," Rice said.

Erickson said that under state law, the city cannot negotiate with Boland Well Systems to lower the bid.

He said after the meeting that the fort association and the ag station would have to sit down and reconsider the scope of the project.

Although the bid is canceled, the project itself is not canceled at this point, Erickson said, and can be revisited at a later time if more money is made available or the scope of the project is changed.

In other City Council business Monday night:

Probationary patrol officer Ben Havron was promoted to a patrol officer of the Havre Police Department.

The Finance Committee approved $5,500 from the sprinkler fund to dig a new well for the slowpitch complex south of town. The Havre Slowpitch Association has committed $2,000 over the next two summers to help pay for the well.


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