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Mayor Taylor – Which Hat?

Mayor Taylor – Which Hat?

Which Hat Was Mayor Taylor Wearing?

While reading this, remember that Mayor Diana Taylor is listed in the Master Plan as a member of the Dornix Park Citizen Committee along with her husband, Tom Biglen.  As you will see, Mayor Taylor was also active in raising money for this project.  Most City Councils require their members to disclose any conflict of interest on any of the items on the agenda prior to considering them.

 Also of note: There is no mention at all of Yellowstone Business Partnership(YBP) and Dornix Park YBP Pilot Project throughout all of the City Council meeting minutes from 2006 thru 2009 .

Also of note: Mayor Taylor was the tie-breaking vote for Resolution 884-A Annexation of the Stene property for the Dornix Park project.

Also of note: Former Mayor Diana Taylor is not a party to the Dornix Park/Biglen/Drinkard lawsuit against the City of Big Timber.

The following are all excerpts taken verbatim from Big Timber City Council Meeting Minutes that were approved by the Council.  *The only exceptions will be in parenthesis and are included for clarification or because they are important.  Some entries are color highlighted for emphasis.


 April 17, 2006                        Discussion was held with regard to walking paths, picnic areas, and other recreational uses for the Stene property, east of the Big Timber Transfer Site.  Mayor Taylor advised there are Montana State University students looking for projects to help communities with, and she will look into the possibilities.

June 19, 2006             A large cadre of supporters was present to update the Council concerning possible development of a city park on the city’s property adjacent to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  This property is currently known as the Stene property.  For the present time the group is calling the project the Dornix Park Project.  Mr. Stene spoke about this being a dream he and his family has had for their former homestead.  He went on to say the group was not in attendance to ask for money, but to ask the Council’s blessing and permission to proceed with a feasibility study.  When the time comes, the group will come to the Council with a solid plan.

Sally Owen-Still introduced herself and presented Council members with an introductory plan for a feasibility study.  She explained this would be a model project for recovery and reclamation.  Mrs. Owen-Still outlined a variety of possible uses including community events, exercise, and sports type activities. (Is this a foreshadowing of YBP’s involvement?)

Mayor Taylor related she spoke about the Stene Park idea with Jeff Gamble at the MSU For A Day event.  She was eventually put in touch with Professor William Pond, who came to look at the site.  He expressed his interest in having a part in this development, as he is interested in reinstating land to good use.  There are students who would like to engineer the project as a learning tool.  This could tie together with service learning for classes for high school students as well.  Part of the cost can be paid for with grants that are in the works at the present time.

(The City applied for this grant through the Beartooth RC&D but was not awarded a grant)

Tom Biglen stated this is a rare opportunity to recover land that is partially polluted, and at the same time, some of the most pristine property in the area.

September 5, 2006     Mayor Taylor reported on Dornix Park happenings. (Was she representing the City or Dornix Park Citizen Committee?)  The Dornix Park committee is working on a way to facilitate a feasibility study.  William Pond, Professor of Landscape Design & Horticulture, Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology at MSU, Bozeman, will be assisting with analysis and evaluation, along with several of his students.  They will look at various aspects of the sight including drainages, vegetation, contamination and the various ways to remediate that contamination.

The Montana Office on Public Instruction is administering a federal grant that initiates Service Learning in schools.  If a school is awarded a grant, they receive $9,000 per year for three years.  The grant serves to make service learning part of the academic curriculum by training teachers and coordinators how to incorporate service into academics.  If Sweet Grass County High School is successful, some of those students would be working with the MSU students on this project, as well.

Mayor Taylor mentioned she is looking into two grants available for restoration of public lands.

October 16, 2006       Sarah Mayer spoke of the Brown Fields Assessment Assistance program, offered through the Environmental Protection Agency, as it regards, contamination that may or may not be present at the Stene property.  The assessment is part of a feasibility study to determine if this site is suitable for reclamation.  Dornix Park Citizen’s committee asked Council approval for Mayor Taylor to sign the application they filled out for financial assistance in this endeavor.

November 6, 2006     Tom Biglen spoke to the Council about Dornix Park matters in conjunction with a recent land purchase by local citizens interested in erecting a skateboard park.

The property is contiguous with the area that may one day be the site of Dornix Park.

Tom stressed the group feels this property will be a valuable addition to Dornix Park, should that parkland be developed.

On a related note, Tom mentioned per the Department of Environmental Quality, Tia Lechin, who is heading up the soil and water sampling efforts for the Dornix Park Project, will legally be able to collect the samples due to her background and education.  Those samples will then be sent to the DEQ for testing.  DEQ will use this information to do a site assessment.

December 4, 2006      SGHS was awarded a Learn and Serve grant from the Department of Public Instruction, and feel they can assist in the effort to develop Dornix Park as a means of learning about serving your community.  The grant award is $9,000 per year for three years.

(Learn more at the link below.  The Corporation for National and Community Service has 3 programs: 1. Learn and Serve  2. Senior Corps and 3. AmeriCorps.  George Soros (Open Society), Fannie Mae and those receiving TARP money are among those that donate to this organization.)

March 5, 2007                        The Dornix Park Committee gave a presentation regarding their progress in making Dornix Park a reality.  Sally Owen-Still, spokesperson for the presentation, related the history of the project to date.

Tom Biglen commented the Mission Statement for Dornix Park is for restoration and remediation.

Discussion continued regarding access to the site and increased insurance costs.

The group hopes Dornix Park can be an example for other communities. (Another foreshdowing of the YBP connection?)

Beccy Oberly asked the Council to be aware of the odor issues when planning Dornix Park.

March 19, 2007          Mayor Taylor requested adjustment of the Impact Plan to include the alternative development of a new park .  Councilwoman Coffey-Avey moved to authorize the Hard Rock Mining Board to make an adjustment to the 1998 SMC Impact Plan-East Boulder Project.

Stillwater Mining Company agrees with this alternative and will petition the Hard-Rock Mining Board to grant the adjustment.  When the adjustment is approved the City will need to request the funds from SMC, in letter form.  (Letter from the City dated March 19, 2007 is sent to HRMB.  HRMB had already made this adjustment on May 23rd, 2006 demonstrating that someone with the City of Big Timber has already pre-arranged this adjustment with the HRMB)

April 2, 2007              Representatives of the Community Outdoor Recreation Association (CORA) came before the Council seeking financial help for placing sod on the soccer fields they are developing on the west side of Big Timber.

They raised the question of possibly being able to use some of the Stillwater Mining Company park grant as noted in the 1999 Hard Rock Mining Impact Statement-East Boulder Project.

Diana explained the money granted to the City of Big Timber by Stillwater Mining Company in the 1999 Hard Rock Mining Impact was set aside for development or enhancement of park land within the City Limits, to compensate for the mine’s impact on the park system.  One of the properties CORA needs help with is County property and the other is privately owned.  The SMC grant has already been designated for Dornix Park, but the City will try to contribute some funding to the grass sod effort. Clerk/Treasurer McPherson remarked the City could possibly find around $4,000.00, but will need to take a closer look at the budgets. The cost to install the necessary sod is about $18,000.00.

(Note the Stene property-the key parcel designated for Dornix Park- has not been annexed into the city at this time).

May 21, 2007             John Beaudry presented the City of Big Timber with a check for $53,200.00, which is the grant amount for Parks and Recreation noted in the 1999 Hard Rock Mining Impact Statement that was amended for use at Dornix Park.

June 18, 2007             Sally Owen-Still reported the results of the two charrettes held to garner citizen input for formation of Dornix Park.  The charrettes , designed for public participation, were led by MSU Professor, Bill Pond, with support by CTA Architects and the Dornix Park Citizens Committee.

CTA Architects submitted a proposal of $44,000 to prepare the Dornix Park Master Plan.  Councilman Warwick moved to table the issue until the next regular meeting on July 2, 2007.

July 2, 2007                Sally Owen-Still, representing the Dornix Park Citizen’s Committee, addressed several of the concerns Council members raised at the last meeting.  At the June 18, 2007 meeting, the group requested use of the money SMC donated to the City for Parks and Recreation.  Their plan for those dollars is to hire CTA Architects to develop a Master Plan for Dornix Park. (Note-$53,200 is sitting in city coffers and is earmarked for Dornix Park of which the key parcel is still not annexed into the city and won’t be for another 6 months).

As to the question of emergency access, the preliminary plan includes three accesses to the park, and all trails are wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles.

Councilman Thomas expressed concern about the park encroaching on the Solid Waste Transfer Site property.  Plans for the park in that area are for prairie restoration lands that will not encroach on the property in question.

Sally stated funding to help with maintenance of the park will be done through establishment of a Friends of Dornix Park group, and fund raising efforts through that group.

Al Buerkle mentioned the three year Service Learning grant Sweet Grass County High School received is directly tied to this (Dornix Park) project.

Councilman Warwick moved to agree to have CTA Architects prepare the Master Plan for Dornix Park with funds granted to the City through the 1999 Hard Rock Mining Impact Plan.  Councilwoman Coffey-Avey seconded the motion.  Motion carried by unanimous vote of the Council present.  Councilman Thomas was absent.

October 1, 2007         Tom Biglen, representing the Dornix Park Citizen’s Committee, reported on CTA’s survey of the Dornix Park property.

Tom said the work CTA has done will let the DPCC know what their options are and how they might proceed with the project if it is approved by the Council.  (If “what” is approved by the City Council-this doesn’t make sense).

Issues surrounding annexation of several properties on Big Timber’s east end were discussed.  Those properties include the area being developed as Dornix Park, and several wholly surrounded properties nearby.

December 3, 2007      Annexation of the Stene property was discussed.  City Attorney Frazier advised the City can annex the property by resolution because the City owns all the property surrounding the proposed annexation site.  Councilwoman Coffey-Avey moved to annex the Stene property by annexation.  (Motion carried)

December 17, 2007    Councilwoman Coffey-Avey moved to approve RESOLUTION #884-A RESOLUTION OF INTENT TO ANNEX WHOLLY OWNED AND CONTIGUOUS CITY LAND.  Councilman Warwick seconded the motion.  Discussion was held.  Councilwoman Coffey-Avey voted aye, Councilman Warwick voted aye, Councilman Thomas voted nay and Councilman Miller voted nay.  Mayor Taylor broke the tie by voting aye.  Motion Carried.

June 16, 2008             She (Mayor Taylor) related Dornix Park Citizen’s Committee received a Stillwater Mining Company grant of $5,000. Toward the entry pavilion and a mower for trails in the park.

On that same note, the Sweet Grass Conservation District received a $15,000 grant to study the effects of a berm on Dornix Park property, and its’ relation to changes in the rivers’ course.

Once the study is completed, additional grant money is available to help with any project concerning the berm.

July 7, 2008                Mayor Taylor commented organizations are looking at areas of Dornix Park in relation to effluent treatment.  Dornix Park Committee is investigating available grant possibilities.  Page suggested there may be Brown Fields dollars to help create wetlands.

July 21, 2008              Tom Biglen and Jackie Franklin gave an overview of how Dornix Park came into being, where the park is at to date, and plans for the future.  Tom commented there are many projects in the works because there were so many ideas presented during the formation stages.  He (Tom Biglen) said the Dornix Park Master Plan is “not a blueprint” but a goal that will be improved upon for generations to come.

They (DPCC) were also awarded a $15,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to study the effect of an existing berm on the course of the Boulder River channel. (Duplicate?)

March 2, 2009            Tom Biglen, representing Dornix Park, has been in contact with the LDS Church for the last few days.  The LDS Church has shares in the Hogan Ditch Company that it no longer needs and they propose to gift these shares to the City of Big Timber if the Hogan Ditch Company shareholders agree.  Dornix Park could really use the extra water these shares will provide, to help in the projected gardens and landscaping.  Councilwoman Coffey-Avey made a motion to allow Tom Biglen, a representative of Dornix Park, to pursue the acquisition of the Hogan Ditch water rights shares, owned by the LDS Church, representing the City of Big Timber,  for distribution of the shares.

March 16, 2009          Mayor Taylor reported that she has sent out several appropriations requests as well as requests for stimulus monies.

April 6, 2009              A representative from Senator Testor’s office was in Big Timber to speak with Mayor Taylor about three appropriations requests she submitted: McLeod Street renovation, wind generation at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Dornix Park.

April 20,2009             She (Mayor Taylor) remarked DNRC has planning grants available, one of which is for Wastewater pilot projects.

October 19, 2009       A group of people, including Sally Owen-Still, Paul Gilbert, Warren Kellogg, and Dan Rostad, was present to discuss Dornix Park grants.  In 2008, DPCC received a $15,000 grant to study the existing berm and how it affects the flow of the Boulder River.  Sally gave a quick overview of events since the park’s creation. (Note: How did the city go about chosing an engineering firm?)

Sweet Grass Conservation District has agreed to sponsor a grant to DPCC through DNRC to move the berm and effluent water study, to a point where the project will be ready for implementation and final design.

Grant funding is to bring an engineering firm in to articulate conceptual design and cost estimate, which will prepare DPCC for implementation and final design.

There is an allocated amount of money ($35,000,000) that can be authorized in this region through the Corps of Engineers, and this group is trying to get in early.  In order to get this funding a procedure has to be followed, and that is what Paul, Warren and Dan were here to help with.

Which hat for Mayor Taylor?

This hat?                     

Or this one?

3 Responses to “Mayor Taylor – Which Hat?”

  1. Maggi Dunakin says:

    Can you say “Conflict of interest”? Repeat after me . . .

    During this same time period, Diana Taylor sat on a founders committee with me for the Sweet Grass Artists Alliance. We decided on a name, wrote a mission statement and collected monies from artists for a Sweet Grass county artist directory.

    Our goal (I thought) was to create a regional destination for visual art shows a la Sweet Pea and Summerfair. What this turned into was a real estate contract for a gallery, requests for donations from artists and local businesses to run this gallery and requests for volunteer staff for the gallery. The gallery is now showing Persian art, Navajo art and other art from outside the county. This gallery is being supported by the community. It is not in any way furthering the livelihood of local artists. It has accepted infusions of money from unknown sources.

    There is no artist directory. It is not for Sweet Grass County. As far as I know, no artist has been able to quit their day job and be a full time artist. This gallery is having workshops to teach art to artists. They have constant fund raisers to support the gallery while claiming that the gallery is supporting the community.

    As soon as I grasped what was going on, I resigned. These people were in no way interested in the input from someone who has been in the art business for over 20 years. In fact, they are in no way interested in business. They are interested in “free” money, free labor, free art and free food and wine. I’m disgusted with the lot of them.

  2. Maggi Dunakin says:

    Speaking of charrettes (Big Timber City Council minutes June 18, 2007):
    ” Sally Owen-Still reported the results of the two charrettes held to garner citizen input for formation of Dornix Park. The charrettes , designed for public participation, were led by MSU Professor, Bill Pond, with support by CTA Architects and the Dornix Park Citizens Committee. ”

    Did you know that the dictionary defines charette (note spelling) as “a final, intensive effort to finish a project, esp. an architectural design project, before a deadline.

    I contend that these WORKSHOPS did not garner citizen input as they were held with park supporters only. I am curious to know what deadline these people were trying to meet. YBP, perhaps?

  3. Jim Dunakin says:

    From these minutes, it doesn’t look like the city put the preparation of the master plan up for bids. Isn’t this a requirement for these types of jobs?

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