County approves additional funds for Expo Park projects; additional facility study for potential improvements

The County Commission approved additional funds for Montana Expo Park during Tuesday’s meeting.

The commission approved moving $302,000 from the general fund into the Expo Park account for the grandstand replacement project and Paddock Club renovation, and moved $78,716 from the original project account into the Expo Park account.
Expo Park improvement project might be on November ballot

That additional funding is needed for changes to the project and additional work.

Brian Clifton, public works director, said they’d originally planned to use asphalt in the area but changed it to concrete for an added expense.
County approves $848K for Paddock Club remodel; loan documents for grandstands

Commissioners said they added fencing, a lighting conversion to LED and a utilities building. Those projects will be executed under separate contracts, commissioners said, for costs not originally budgeted into the project.

Briggs said the switch to LED lighting would likely save the county in energy costs over time.
Community presentation on Expo Park improvement proposal moved to Wednesday

In November, commissioners approved a $848,519 contract to Dick Olson Construction to remodel the Paddock Club at Montana ExpoPark.

The bid is nearly $100,000 over estimates since the original plan was to use the existing bathrooms, but during the demolition work, the county discovered that they weren’t on a good foundation, Clifton told The Electric in November.
Grandstands demolished, Paddock Club on commission agenda today

Clifton said Tuesday that the additional costs for the Expo Park pushed a few other projects back but the grandstands and Paddock Club will be done in time for this summer’s fair.
Paddock Club to be remodeled along with grandstand project at Expo Park

During the April 23 meeting, commissioners also approved a budget amendment to account for $27,500 that the county has agreed to spend for an additional component of the facility study already conducted by Great Falls Montana Tourism.

The additional study piece will address questions commissioners had about the initial design presented during community meetings last fall in terms of rearranging the livestock zone.

In January, commissioners said they wanted a cost estimate on moving the livestock zone to the northeast quadrant of the Expo Park grounds, which was not included in the consultant’s proposal since the consultants deemed it less cost-effective than the plan they presented to the public in late November.

The tourism agency has been exploring options for major improvements at Expo Park, which would require a public vote for a roughly $86 million bond to finance the project.

In January, the tourism board approved funding toward an education effort related to putting the Expo Park bond on the 2019 ballot.

On Tuesday, commissioners said 2020 was the earliest the bond would go to the ballot.

“We have no appetite to do it in 2019,” Commissioner Joe Briggs said. “We won’t be ready.”

The Paddock Club is being reconstructed in conjunction with the grandstands replacement project at ExpoPark.

The county received a $2 million intercap loan through the Montana Board of Investments, which is partially funding the roughly $2.5 million grandstand project.

The loan’s interest rate from February 2019 through February 2020 is 3.37 percent.