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Partial roof decided for grandstand

| February 3, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

A grandstand facility at J. Neils Memorial County Park will be built with a partial roof rather than the initially proposed full cover, Lincoln County officials and others involved in the project have decided.

The decision was made this week during a meeting of a dozen people representing the county, the Libby City Council, the county parks steering committee, the Libby Parks District, the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association whose rodeo was held at the park for the first time last summer and one is planned for July 29-30 this year.

Last year¹s event drew an estimated 1,200 people to the park on each of two nights.

The group voted 10-2 to move ahead with a plan that calls for only 354 of the grandstand¹s 973 seats to be covered, said Lincoln County Commissioner Rita Windom. The proposal for the partially covered grandstand was given a preliminary nod during a similar meeting last week involving fewer participants.

Primary funding for the park improvements comes from a $245,000 grant from the city¹s economic development fund awarded last June. An additional $15,000 was contributed by the county.

The grant from the city was based on an estimated cost of $75,000 for a 150-by-280-foot fenced arena plus $170,000 for a 1,000-seat covered grandstand. The county arena was installed last summer, but the cost added up to nearly $99,000, leaving $161,275 in the county¹s fund for the project. The only bid for the grandstand, from a Nebraska firm, came in recently at $199,000 for 973 covered seats, with the increased cost attributed to rising steel prices.

The company submitted alternate bids including $163,500 for the partially covered grandstand that was eventually selected. The county will make up the roughly $2,000 difference between the original budget and the final cost of the project, Windom said. Other options included a 620-seat fully covered grandstand for $155,000 and a 1,475-seat uncovered grandstand for $161,500. The two dissenting votes at this week¹s meeting were cast in favor of the larger uncovered facility.

The contractor estimated the cost of adding a roof later to the uncovered portions of the partially covered 973-seat grandstand at more than $50,000, Windom said. While that is unlikely to happen, using temporary covers to shield spectators in the uncovered seats from the elements is being considered, she said.

Construction of the grandstand is scheduled for April.