Bozeman commissioners to discuss fate of Story Mansion


Bozeman commissioners to discuss fate of Story Mansion (04/05/13)

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Leaders of Exergy Friends of the Story Mansion say they want to help preserve the Story Mansion for the good of the city.

"Our interest is in seeing the mansion preserved as a community resource, as a place for community gatherings as it's been used for three or four years."

Andy Epple is the group's Chairman of the Board. He tells me Exergy invested tens of thousands of dollars into the grounds and the Carriage house roof. He says they were supposed to close on the sale of the mansion February 28th. That is, until they received word from Exergy that the money wasn't coming.

"A couple of significant projects that they had invested in did not get finalized," explains Epple.

But he says they're still committed to the Story Mansion.

"We are simply asking that the city restructure that agreement to allow us to purchase the property over a six year period on a contract or deed," says Epple.

On Monday, Bozeman City Commissioners will decide whether they'll accept Exergy Friends of the Story Mansion's proposal and change the agreement or end the agreement.

"Since they did not close, the commission needs to determine what remedy they want to take in their default in the agreement," says Bozeman City Manager Chris Kukulski.

I sat down with Kukulski to find out what the commission plans to do next.

He tells me the Story Mansion is on the city's list of priorities. If commissioners decide they want to end the agreement, their next step is coming up with alternatives.

"They can select, create any options they would like, I would just like them to define them as tightly as possible so that we can do a good job doing the research on what the opportunities and liabilities are associated with the options," explains Kukulski.

Options Kukulski suggests include putting the historic home on the market, keeping it in the hands of the city or repeating the Request for Proposals process.

We went to downtown to find out what folks on Main Street think should happen to the Story Mansion.

Some Bozeman locals tell us there's a lot of emotion tied into the mansion. Many say it should be preserved for the community but express, at this point, there may be no easy solution.

"I don't know if I have an opinion of what should happen at this point. I think, if we could undo some of the mistakes that have been made already, it would be the best solution but that's probably not a possibility at this point," explains Bozeman resident Katie Huempfner.

Gallatin County resident Brooks Martin says he thinks the mansion should remain in the hands of the city and says we could use more public places like that in town.

"I prefer that the city keep it and turn it into a public facility. I definitely don't want to see it destroyed and I think that's always a potential problem if you sell it to somebody," says Martin.

Bozeman local Mark Bryan says he thinks the home should be liquidated in a way to maximize the benefit to taxpayers.

"If there's some non-profit group or whatever that would like to take it over, that's fine if they'll pay the price because it's the taxpayers' money," says Bryan.

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