Sunday, January 16, 2022

BOCC plans prosperity for Pottsville

Staff Writer | January 14, 2022 8:32 AM

WALLACE — The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) held its third meeting with members of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Pottsville Seven group to discuss a comeback for Mullan’s East Shoshone Park, also known as Pottsville, earlier this week.

In prior discussions, it was agreed upon by all parties that the USFS and Shoshone County would form a Challenge Cost Share Agreement, which would begin a partnership between the two and allow Shoshone County the ability to take part in the park’s maintenance and restoration.

The USFS team provided a preliminary task list which was discussed and prioritized by financial viability and those deemed to be most crucial for public safety.

USFS Recreation Program Manager Jason Smith explained that terms of the Challenge Cost Share agreement are generally kept minimal and vague, however once it is in place, the parties will then meet yearly to discuss an Annual Operating Plan (AOP) and Financial Plan (FP) which is when projects for the year will be chosen and responsibility divided between parties.

With subsidies currently in short supply due to missed grant deadlines, all parties agreed that general maintenance of the park would be the priority for year one.

Items such as regular lawn maintenance, removal of damaged structures, painting, pressure washing and other tasks which BOCC Chairman Mike Fitzgerald described as “mostly elbow grease” were among things all parties unanimously agreed will take precedence.

“For year one, we want to establish a baseline, what works and what doesn't,” Fitzgerald said. “I think the general consensus is to ease into this, but the low hanging fruit is definitely taking care of the grounds and removing safety hazards.”

Looking further down the road, shared efforts will go toward larger projects such as a complete teardown and rebuild of the west kitchen shelter, upgrading picnic areas, and installing new double vaulted toilets at each of the rental sights.

With his extensive knowledge of accessible grants, Pottsville Seven member Jim See plans to work alongside Shoshone County Courthouse’s new grant administrator Colleen Rosson to develop the project's financial capabilities.

Fitzgerald also designated members of the Pottsville Seven to be in charge of long-term vision of the park. “This is really your dream,” he told the group. “We will work with the Forest Service on the agreement end, and I would be really interested to see what the full vision looks like once you guys map it out, but I think we’re off to a great start. I really do.”

Plans will continue for all parties to reconvene monthly to discuss progress and delegate forthcoming tasks.

“All of this is doable, it’s just coming up with a plan and figuring out how much we can bite off at a time,” Fitzgerald said.

Recent Headlines