Fifth Avenue hill plans take a turn


A plan to landscape the hill across Fifth Avenue from the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field will be altered but the project will still happen, Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today.

The changes came this week after the Montana Department of Transportation voiced concerns about the size of the state right-of-way on the hill and the erosion the original plans would create.

"In my enthusiasm to get the thing done I neglected to get all the details on it," Rice said Wednesday.

Notably absent will be the 20-foot-tall Havre Blue Pony H on the hillside because of concerns that the painted white rocks composing the H would roll down the hill onto the sidewalk and street below.

"We're concerned about the erosion," Rice said.

Dave Hand, division maintenance chief of MDT, said the concerns arose in a conversation he had with Rice earlier this week or late last week.

"Any time you strip a slope of vegetation you run the risk of erosion," Hand said, adding that "With that steep a slope we were concerned about the possibility of (the rocks) rolling down the hill."

In April Rice began discussing a project to landscape the hill, which is located directly south of Pro-Putt Golf on the west side of Fifth Avenue. Plans included building a retaining wall and a landscaped area dug into the hill to showcase the H. Rice proposed the project both to beautify the hill and to prevent dirt and mud from falling onto the sidewalk and street below as it does now.

The landscaping will also be lower on the hill than originally intended, because the state's right of way only goes 16 feet from the curb, above which the hill is owned by Montana State University-Northern. Now the project will only go 10 to 12 feet up the hill instead of the 20 or more that would have been required for the H.

Instead, there will be 50 donated lilac bushes on the site.

Hand said Rice has the required permits for the project, and that no engineering is required. "He's asked for and received an encroachment permit for the work and he has it," Hand said.

The Montana Department of Transportation has agreed to donate cement pilings to create a 230-foot retaining wall, three feet tall and set back from the sidewalk about three feet.

Rice has said the work will be done by a combination of city workers volunteering their time and volunteers from the high school and the university.

Work is expected to begin in June and completed within the month, Rice said.


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