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Park board discusses lodge stabilization and future repairs

Public meetings on beaver control over for now


Last updated 6/8/2021 at 11:39am

At the monthly meeting of the Hill County Park Board Monday evening, Beaver Creek Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said the the lodge at the park has been stabilized, but further repairs will be needed in the coming months.

Edgar said Korb Construction was able to complete the initial stabilization project in time for the lodge to function all summer, and they’ve received no complaints about its condition from users since work was completed.

He said they paid for the project using money from their capital improvement fund as well as with help from the Friends of Beaver Creek Park, whom he thanked for their help.

He also said, based on what engineers have told him, the damage to the lodge appears to be the result of heavy snow load, which he said may have happened late last year.

Edgar said, at this point, he doesn’t know how much the needed repairs to the lodge will cost, which presents difficulties for the park’s budget.

“There are a lot of unknowns, it’s kinda scary right now (given) what I don’t know about how much money we’re going to need for the lodge,” he said.

During the meeting the board did approve the draft budget submitted by the Finance and Planning Committee, but Edgar said the lodge still presents difficulties for the park.

He said, ultimately, they won’t have a solid idea of what everything will cost until the project is put out to bids in the fall, but the park is already looking at possible funding sources.

Edgar said he’s made an insurance claim on the building and is looking into COVID-19 funds the park can make use of.

He said the park lost $30,000 in cancellations due to the pandemic and that might be eligible for revenue replacement, which will give them some money for the necessary repairs.

He said park usage in general has been very high recently, especially with Memorial Day weekend, which went very well.

Edgar also said the inaugural Bear Paw Marathon held last weekend appears to have gone very well.

He said he now has a full crew of workers on the park, but they’ve been struggling to keep up with the grass, which they are working on mowing.

He also mentioned that with the assistant superintendent position still open the office has had to reduce operations considerably.

Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson also provided an update on the board’s Rules and Regulations Committee and their ongoing efforts to create a policy to recommend to the board regarding controlling the effects of beaver in the park.

Peterson said the most recent meeting had a number of experts with knowledge relevant to the park provide their own perspectives, and the committee feels it’s time to move to the next phase of this process.

“The committee, at this point, is looking at moving on and getting to work on developing a policy recommendation for the park board,” he said.

He said the committee feels it has spent a sufficient amount of time gathering the opinions and perspectives of people in the area and for now it looks like public meetings on the subject are concluded, though that may change if they later decide they need more.

Peterson said he’s proud of the committee for being open to various perspectives and for their continuing work on a complex issues.

Hill County Commissioner Diane McLean said the board’s Finance and Planning Committee also met recently and some there expressed frustration about the lack of progress on a kiosk for entrance to the park, which the board has been working on for some time now.

Edgar said the park was originally working with an Arizona-based company with a great track record building these kinds of structures, but it will be a significant investment and the board should be sure they want to proceed.

Hill County Park Board member Ursula Brese, also president of Friends of Beaver Creek Park, said that group has a new board, and she’s talking to them about how to raise money for the kiosk and the lodge projects.

Edgar mentioned that he’s been talking to the wife of Tom Farnham, a Havre resident and supporter of the park who died last month, about wanting his memorials to go to the Friends of Beaver Creek Park, which would use that money to improve the Eagles campground.

Brese said she and the friends appreciate contributions Farnham, who was manager of the Havre Eagles Club, had made to the park and their organization.

“If it wasn’t for Tom Farnham and the deal he made for us at the Eagles, I don’t think the Friends of Beaver Creek Park would be where it is today,” she said. “... He was such a community guy and he was good to us.”

The board also briefly discussed progress being made on the park’s frisbee golf course, the kiosk for which has been installed with the baskets and signs hopefully being installed this week as well.


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