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Several locations proposed for museum

 

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Several locations proposed for museum

Tim Leeds, [email protected]

The board of the local museum Monday heard an architect describe his company's vision for the layout and location of a permanent home for the museum.

The top location was state-owned land behind Triangle Communications and Hill County Electric's offices overlooking the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump archaeological site..

"You really do get a really nice view of the whole buffalo jump area," said Gary Levine of Spectrum Group Architects, adding that the site also gives a good view of the Milk River valley and Havre itself, as well as providing easy access to the archaeological site.

Levine presented his report on a new location for the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum to the board of the museum and the board of its funding foundation.

The museum board took no action after the presentation.

Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said that once the board does act on the study's recommendation, the Commission will act upon that recommendation. She said the first question will be how the county can pay for building a new museum.

"We will take a look at all of the facts and go from there," Bessette said.

Elaine Morse, chair of the museum funding foundation, said the next step will be to use the study to begin seeking grants and other funding sources.

The Hill County government, using Community Development Block Grant program funds, and the foundation split the $30,000 price tag to pay for the study, to determine the best location to build a permanent structure for the museum It has been in space leased in the Holiday Village Mall since 2004.

The second-ranked site is on the Great Northern Fairgrounds, while the distant third is on private land just south of Wahkpa Chu'gn, between the Holiday Village and the Triangle Communications-Hill County Electric complex.

Levine and John Brumley, the archaeologist who discovered and now oversees Wahkpa Chu'gn, said selecting a museum site in conjunction with the bison kill site seemed to fit with the vision, mission statement and museum bylaws. Those documents, as well as the mission statement of the museum foundation, say that one purpose of the museum and its board is the maintenance and operation of the archaeological site.

When museum board chair Bud Baldwin asked if negotiations with the state have been started to use the land, Morse said the use already is available.

After researching the location, she said, she found that the state had ceded the use of the land to the county for development of the bison kill site years ago.

"It's the county's," Morse said.

Another issue was access. Levine's report marks a route through Triangle Communications' property then across the state land to the proposed site.

Museum manager John Gilbert asked if access across its property had been discussed with Triangle.

"That is something that would have to be worked out," Levine said.

He and Brumley both said other access routes could be used. One would be across the private land between Holiday Village and Triangle, and Levine said another could be coming from the highway to the west of the site.

Levine said one advantage to the preferred site is that it appears to have a much lower water table than the land to the east and south of it. That is a drawback for many of the locations in the area, he said.

He said that a formal study of the water table and quality of the soil has not yet been done, but he believes such a study would back his belief.

He said the site would provide good visibility for the museum, particularly from the north. People would be able to glimpse the building at different spots along U.S. Highway 2, he added.

He said he had not checked to see how visible the location would be coming from U.S. Highway 87 and its conjunction with Highway 2.

Levine said the initial design of the building would promote the exhibits as well as other parts of the museum including the gift shop.

The design has the main entrance leading past the information desk, with the entrance to an extensive gift shop beyond the desk. Turning right from the desk, visitors would see a large open area with an atrium showing the lower level and displays there.

The central section will have three large areas for displays, with the initial drawing setting one for a diorama including Fort Assinniboine, another for paleontology and a third for displays including archeology and Native American exhibits.

The lower level would have other exhibits and a meeting room as well as storage and work areas.

The east end of the lower level would open onto a patio with a view of — and access to a trail to — Wahkpa Chu'gn.

Levine said the design has much of the building under ground. Most of the lower level, with the exception of the east end, would be covered.

He said the Havre museum, located centrally between large towns long distances apart, has the potential to be a major draw.

"It's just a natural stopping spot and has the potential to be a fantastic facility," Levine said.

The board of the local museum Monday heard an architect describe his company's vision for the layout and location of a permanent home for the museum.

The top location was state-owned land behind Triangle Communications and Hill County Electric's offices overlooking the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump archaeological site..

"You really do get a really nice view of the whole buffalo jump area," said Gary Levine of Spectrum Group Architects, adding that the site also gives a good view of the Milk River valley and Havre itself, as well as providing easy access to the archaeological site.

Levine presented his report on a new location for the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum to the board of the museum and the board of its funding foundation.

The museum board took no action after the presentation.

Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said that once the board does act on the study's recommendation, the Commission will act upon that recommendation. She said the first question will be how the county can pay for building a new museum.

"We will take a look at all of the facts and go from there," Bessette said.

Elaine Morse, chair of the museum funding foundation, said the next step will be to use the study to begin seeking grants and other funding sources.

The Hill County government, using Community Development Block Grant program funds, and the foundation split the $30,000 price tag to pay for the study, to determine the best location to build a permanent structure for the museum It has been in space leased in the Holiday Village Mall since 2004.

The second-ranked site is on the Great Northern Fairgrounds, while the distant third is on private land just south of Wahkpa Chu'gn, between the Holiday Village and the Triangle Communications-Hill County Electric complex.

Levine and John Brumley, the archaeologist who discovered and now oversees Wahkpa Chu'gn, said selecting a museum site in conjunction with the bison kill site seemed to fit with the vision, mission statement and museum bylaws. Those documents, as well as the mission statement of the museum foundation, say that one purpose of the museum and its board is the maintenance and operation of the archaeological site.

When museum board chair Bud Baldwin asked if negotiations with the state have been started to use the land, Morse said the use already is available.

After researching the location, she said, she found that the state had ceded the use of the land to the county for development of the bison kill site years ago.

"It's the county's," Morse said.

Another issue was access. Levine's report marks a route through Triangle Communications' property then across the state land to the proposed site.

Museum manager John Gilbert asked if access across its property had been discussed with Triangle.

"That is something that would have to be worked out," Levine said.

He and Brumley both said other access routes could be used. One would be across the private land between Holiday Village and Triangle, and Levine said another could be coming from the highway to the west of the site.

Levine said one advantage to the preferred site is that it appears to have a much lower water table than the land to the east and south of it. That is a drawback for many of the locations in the area, he said.

He said that a formal study of the water table and quality of the soil has not yet been done, but he believes such a study would back his belief.

He said the site would provide good visibility for the museum, particularly from the north. People would be able to glimpse the building at different spots along U.S. Highway 2, he added.

He said he had not checked to see how visible the location would be coming from U.S. Highway 87 and its conjunction with Highway 2.

Levine said the initial design of the building would promote the exhibits as well as other parts of the museum including the gift shop.

The design has the main entrance leading past the information desk, with the entrance to an extensive gift shop beyond the desk. Turning right from the desk, visitors would see a large open area with an atrium showing the lower level and displays there.

The central section will have three large areas for displays, with the initial drawing setting one for a diorama including Fort Assinniboine, another for paleontology and a third for displays including archeology and Native American exhibits.

The lower level would have other exhibits and a meeting room as well as storage and work areas.

The east end of the lower level would open onto a patio with a view of — and access to a trail to — Wahkpa Chu'gn.

Levine said the design has much of the building under ground. Most of the lower level, with the exception of the east end, would be covered.

He said the Havre museum, located centrally between large towns long distances apart, has the potential to be a major draw.

"It's just a natural stopping spot and has the potential to be a fantastic facility," Levine said.

 
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