The Montana Heritage Center Building and Steering committees held their second meeting on November 1 at the Metcalf Building in Helena.
Russ Katherman, chair of the Building Committee and State Architecture and Engineering Division Administrator, said they’re getting close to finalizing their report on possible locations for the new Montana Historical Society (MHS) building.
The focus of Friday’s meeting was to go over the current draft and to clarify or add any additional information to the report. Issues raised included General Services responsibilities for maintaining the properties and addressing the security concerns.
“We need to add some aspects of security and the importance of protecting the State’s artifacts and how those might play into the location that is chosen,” said Katherman.
The current budget is about $52.7 million to build a new Heritage Center.
MHS has been planning the project for more than a decade, as a way to create more space for its collections of art and artifacts and provide better conditions for storing and caring for those items.
The four sites being considered for the new center are: the current location at the Veterans' and Pioneers' Memorial Building on 225 North Roberts Street, Padbury Ranch near the South Hills Interchange, on Montana Department of Transportation property at the corner of I-15 and Prospect Avenue and on Helena Regional Airport property south of Costco.
The committees’ role currently is just to prepare the report however.
The final location decision will rest with the Department of Administration’s Director John Lewis.
“We want to turn that report in as soon as possible,” said Katherman. “With the input that we were able to get from the committee and the other members of the public making comment today, we still think we can get it turned in to him by Thanksgiving.”
At the meeting Jeff Essman, former Republican member of the Montana House of Representatives, proposed the North Roberts location be sold to the Legislative and Executive branches to use as office space.
All public comment goes directly to the Director’s office for consideration on the project, and people can still submit public comment through the heritage center website.