Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Hot Springs Bathhouse project discussed at Tribal Council meeting

By B.L. Azure
Char-Koosta News

PABLO — At the Tuesday (Dec. 19) Tribal Council meeting, Planning Director Janet Camel brought the Tribal Council up to speed on the proposed Hot Springs Bathhouse redevelopment project.

The once well-known and well-used world class Camas Bathhouse has been sitting idle and unused for nearly 40 years and the area grounds has been off-limits for about half of that time. The Economic Development Office has been looking into the possibility of revitalizing and reconstructing the site so it could be part of the economic draw of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Camel informed the Tribal Council that the proposed architectural plans for the Hot Springs Wellness Center project are, according to economic feasibility studies, too costly for the predicted economic return.

Initial estimates indicated that the Hot Springs Wellness Center and Motel/Restaurant project would cost an estimated $12.8 million, including a renovated and re-purposed bathhouse. Those plans were scaled back to phase in development.

The focus is now on provision of cabins and RV spaces for lodging, and cost reduction options for the bathhouse remodel.

New estimates indicate that costs to renovate the existing bathhouse structure as a wellness center, construction of an outdoor plunge, and development of 7-19 cabins and a 30-space RV site, range from between $4.8 million to $9 million, depending differing development scenarios.

Camel said those cost estimates were still a bit too high for return. “We need to go back and look closer to see what we can feasibly develop there,” she said. “We need to recalculate the numbers, bring the cost down and look closely at the revenue stream.”

Camel said her office recently received a grant to complete an RFP (request for proposal) for an extensive market study, and she would revisit the issue with the Tribal Council once the new financial information from the market study is completed.

Dixon District Representative Anita Matt said there could be U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants available and they should be explored.

Pablo District Representative Dennis Clairmont said that at a minimum, the development there should be the health and wellness center approach.

Editor's Note: This online version has been updated from the print version to reflect data provided by the Economic Development Office.

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