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Park board begins long-range planning for Beaver Creek

The Hill County Park Board Monday took the first step in setting long-range plan for Beaver Creek Park, creating a committee to start the strategic planning process.

Dana Pyette, who is the executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Beaver Creek Park as well as the assistant to park Superintendent Chad Edgar, told the board she wants to see a vision for the park for the future.

"It's important for us to know where we're going with the future of the park, " Pyette said. "It's necessary for us, in this day and age, to know where the park is going. "

Pyette said Friends of Beaver Creek Park already has a good start — a survey on what people think of the park, how and why people use it, and what they would like to see in the park has returned hundreds of comments.

Lou Hagener of Havre said, in his work for the U. S. Bureau of Land Management, he worked on many such efforts, and they pay off.

"It is really important to set that vision of what you want to have in the future, " he said.

Park Superintendent Chad Edgar also said he thinks setting a strategic plan will help with park operations. Not only will it give better direction, it will make it easier for him to work with the board if both are working with a strategy in mind, he said.

"I think it's a great idea, " Edgar said. "We need it. "

Pyette also said having a specific plan will help deal with issues when they arise, such as how to best deal with beavers on the park, issues raised by cabin owners, questions about campsite use, and so on.

Board member Robbie Lucke said having a concrete plan would benefit, and bring together many efforts. The board already has been working on formalizing policies, he said, such as updating grazing policies, cabin leases and formalizing procedures for haying on the park, but putting it all together in a long-range plan would help.

Board Chair Steve Mariani agreed, adding that, for example, the cabin owners association and other groups need to be actively involved.

"We're working toward it, but sort of haphazardly, " Mariani said. "We're sort of doing it, but there's not a plan to our plan. "

The board set a committee comprising Pyette, Edgar, Mariani, Hagener and Board member and Hill County Commissioner Jeff LaVoi to begin the process of setting a process to start drafting a strategic plan for the park.

Board delays setting new style of park permits

The Hill County Park Board Monday put off deciding on whether to use a new style of permits for Beaver Creek Park, with some board members saying more research was needed.

"Why don't we come up with a really good thing that will work, because I don't think we have yet, " Board member Robbie Lucke said during the board's monthly meeting.

Havreite Lou Hagener brought information about the membership tags used by a local gun club that hangs from the rearview mirror of vehicles for easy display. He said the club spends $266 a year having the tags printed.

Board Chair Steve Mariani said at this and previous meetings that he believes having the hanging park permits would make it much easier for park staff members to check if people are legal to use the park, which requires a permit.

But members of the board were concerned that the tags could be more of a problem than a help and suggested a decision be delayed until more research into tags that hang from mirrors and other options are investigated.

"There seem to be a lot of variables here, and we're not going to solve them tonight, " board member Dave Wilson said.

Pagers hope to complete Community Effort Park this year

A local service organization is hoping to complete work on the lower Beaver Creek lake this summer and turn its operation over to the county.

"Our whole objective is to get this done this year and give it back to you guys, " Railroad Pagers member Jack Brady said Monday during the Hill County Park Board's monthly meeting.

The group has spearheaded an effort to upgrade a campground at Beaver Creek Lake, building a pavilion and new docks, installing restrooms and doing beautification work.

Brady said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks awarded the Pagers a $15,000 grant to install new sidewalks, which will make the site more accessible to people with handicaps.

Board Chair Steve Mariani said that, when he heard about the FWP grant, he had some concerns because previous offers of funding from the state agency had strings attached.

Brady and Pager Daryl Shea said the application for the grant was very specific that there would be no strings — the grant was awarded to the Pagers, and the operation of the site would be exclusive to the county and park board.

Beaver Creek cabin owners ask for road repairs

The head of the Beaver Creek Park cabin owners association again asked the Hill County Park Board if work could be done to repair roads to the cabins in the park.

Rose Cloninger of the association told the board at its monthly meeting Monday that the cabin owners are not looking for high-grade gravel roads maintained to their cabins, but they are asking for the park crews to fill potholes in the roads.

Board Chair Steve Mariani said the park staff members will work on the roads, damaged by flooding on the park in 2010 and 2011 and more snow and rain this year.

"We're going to get to it, " he said.

Board member and Hill County Commissioner Jeff LaVoi asked if any of the cabin owners had talked about trying to get together to buy some gravel and do some work on the roads themselves.

Cloninger said some association members had talked about it, but if they were to repair and maintain the roads themselves they want to be able to put gates on their roads to keep the general public away from their cabins.

She added that some cabin owners have done that, and people are asking why some are allowed and others aren't, naming three roads where cabin owners have put up gates.

Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said in one case he allowed a gate to a road accessing a single cabin.

"They had their cabin broke into twice there, and I actually allowed that, " he said.


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