After 2½ hours of sometimes contentious discussion Monday, the Hill County Park Board agreed to hold off on policy decisions in several areas, giving more time — and a chance for more public input — before deciding what should be changed.
The board listened to discussions including on how park permits should be issued, how cabins should be signed, how many outbuildings should be allowed on cabin sites and what fences should be allowed at cabin sites, and pushed decisions on those issues to future meetings, possibly until next year for some, including park permit decals or hanging tabs.
Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson said the issue of how to use some $167,000 the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering to make improvements to the park in lieu of replacing a washed-out bridge at Blackie Coulee needs more public input.
Park Superintendent Chad Edgar has been researching using the money to purchase equipment such as a skid-steer loader and dump truck with the money, offered by FEMA after it did not approve replacing the bridge.
Peterson said he found that some implement dealers did not know the park was looking for equipment and wanted to open the discussion up to all including suggestions from the public on what should be done at the park.
Peterson said during the board meeting Monday that the public input would be suggestions only and the final decisions would be the board’s. He said Tuesday that the public meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, at the Hill County Electric Hospitality Room west of the Holiday Village Mall.
Commissioner Jeff LaVoi also warned the board Monday about offering variances or waivers on park policies. LaVoi said the park rules and policies are approved by the board and enacted as ordinances by the Hill County Commission, and the board can’t provide exceptions.
He said if he got a waiver on the 70 mph speed limit from the sheriff, it wouldn’t stand up in court if he was ticketed for doing 120 mph.
The board did approve one major change, pending funding.
Heather DePriest of Montana Grafix said she could build a new website for Beaver Creek Park, for $499 for a three-page site. The site would include allowing online purchases of merchandise and campsite reservations through PayPal. That would be a one-time fee, she said, and it would require paying about a hundred a year for the domain and hosting.
She said updates to the site, including changing pictures or replacing text, would cost $20 to $60 per change. The site could be expanded to 10 pages for about another $600, and it could be set up to be managed by the park staff for another $600, she said.
Board Chair Steve Mariani said he would contact the Hill County Park Foundation to see if it had funds available to pay for the website. The board agreed to begin looking at a three-page site, including some history and descriptions of the park as well as its rules and regulations and a page to reserve campsites and purchase merchandise, with expanding the site to be reviewed later.
Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said he was sending thank-you cards to two groups for work they have done, the Friends of Beaver Creek Park for purchasing a new stove for the Beaver Lodge at Camp Kiwanis, and an engineering class at Montana State University-Northern for doing surveying, planning and design work for a proposed walking path through the park.
He said he also wanted to extend thanks to Central Machine Shop for work it did on the park’s dump truck.
He also is working with Friends of Beaver Creek Park on plans for a proposed memorial tree or memorial forest at the park, Edgar said.
Ursula Brese of Friends of Beaver Creek Park said the annual meeting of the nonprofit group, formed to provide fundraising and volunteer assistance for the park, is set for next Monday at the Van Orsdel United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. That will include nominating and voting on officers of the board, she said.
Brese said the group also is planning its annual fundraiser, set for next October.
“I already have people calling me to offer donations,” she added.