When MacBain Properties builds its 20-acre man camp a little ways outside Bainville, it’ll more than double the town’s population.
The site comes equipped with dormitory-style housing and multi-family apartments along with a recreation and dining facility, gym, movie theater, laundry mat and meeting rooms. It’s enough to accommodate 350 people, more than the 283 residents themselves.
On Monday, town residents gathered at the Bainville High School gymnasium to listen to MacBain’s executive vice president and managing partner, John Milino, lay out site details that also include accommodating employees at a new frac sand distribution facility developed by ProCore Logistics.
“We’re not here to create problems. We’re here for a long time,” Milino told residents, many of whom appeared skeptical of the company’s attempts to work with the town.
Calgary-based MacBain plans to increase Bainville’s sewer lagoon capacity to accommodate both its development and the town’s future expansion as the current two-year-old lagoon is already maxxed out.
Bainville Mayor Dennis Portra said he was pleased; it would be difficult to pay for a new facility otherwise.
“We can do this all on our property,” Milino said. “Since we felt that being able to do some contribution for the town based on the fact that we’re going to have a pretty significant impact, we thought it would be the proper thing to do to build the lagoon for the town.”
Sitting just west of Bainville is ProCore’s 130-acre, 10,000-ton frac sand site that will collect frac material from several states and off load into storage bins. The facility also has the capacity to take grains in an attempt to become an “inland port” transported by rail.
At its peak capacity in five years, ProCore will move two trains a week. That’s in addition to the 50 or so trains that already come and go through the town that sits about 30 minutes west of Williston, N.D.
Residents complained that the company will block crossings – all three of them – in town, though Milino begged to differ.
Bainville Superintendent of Schools Rene Rasmussen worried that any wait time would disrupt the school bus schedule. At present, the district by law has only one hour that students can stay on the bus; they’re at the limit. “We do not have the legal 15 minutes to wait to cross the crossing,” Rasmussen said.
Others said blocked crossings prevent emergency personnel from reaching residents, something that Milino agreed is problematic. “All of your concerns are our concerns. That’s the truth,” he said, pointing toward BNSF Railway, which controls train scheduling.
“I think what’s necessary is we’re needing BNSF to come in and discuss this because outside our property, we have no control over BNSF schedule,” he said, vowing to take up the discussion with BNSF executives so they know the impacts.
Milino said MacBain and ProCore will spend an estimated $30 million in the Bainville area, but residents said it’s money the town will never see because it doesn’t have businesses.
Others, like resident Miles Knudsen, questioned whether Milino understands taxes in Montana; oil and gas taxes are heading west and the state spends it on various projects. “So the impacts are oil, the oil funding is gone, we can’t get it back and all these impacts that you’re creating will have to be paid by the local people by personal property,” Knudsen said. “So I think you need to understand how the taxes work in Montana, where the money comes from and where it’s going. That’s the issue.”
He argued the county will be burned having to raise money to fight impacts.
But Milino insisted his company will help in anyway it can to mitigate impacts. “I don’t want to move to this town and be the guy that’s causing problems or conflict. I’d like to think that we’re here as a viable industry that’s being able to provide contributions,” he said. “I think we as a community need to speak as one voice and try to get that resolved.”
It was clear, however, that MacBain and ProCore have work to do to win over residents after eliminating a private crossing on farmers’ land and presenting a proposal to construct a new road on the south side of the BNSF rail line to provide alternate access to Bainville. Milino said he’s addressed the issue with Roosevelt County, which is working on it.
“You got a long ways to go with me as far as this trust issue goes,” Knudsen said, having asked Milino if he’s willing to get politically involved because “up to this point [oil companies] have washed their hands from all this stuff and not gotten involved politically at all because they don’t care.”
Milino agreed to testify before the Montana Legislature and do whatever’s asked to assist the town and county through impacts.