It is pretty easy for communities around here to get swallowed up by fast-progressing development. There’s Williston and Watford City and the smaller towns around there.
Now it’s Bainville, which seems poised for some major change. In Sunday’s edition of the Herald, we reported that a 350-person man camp is planned just outside the town’s limits, in part to support a new frac sand facility. Around 70 residents – out of a population of 280 – congregated for a community meeting to discuss details and ask questions.
A good thing, since they could very easily get run over. The plans by MacBain Properties, a Canadian company, include building a new sewer lagoon for its man camp and the town itself. John Milino, an official with MacBain, insisted several times that he and his business want to work with the small town in any way it can.
Yet, its recent actions are questionable. Residents living there, no doubt are skeptical of the way plans have been dealt. Resident Garth Harmon, while supporting the overall goal, curiously asked Milino how the property for the housing was subdivided so quickly.
Himself, meanwhile, in charge of a man camp site not too far away, claims to have jumped through several hoops. “I wanna know who you know,” he said.
The answer? Vivid. It’s still in the process, and the steps are apparently being skipped while proper paperwork is filed.
That left several people weary of the company, some even muttering it was “bull [expletive]” following the meeting.
There are still more questions, like, communication between the residents and Roosevelt County. Something is missing there, when company officials say the county is handling certain aspects ( such as notifying landowners of a new road needs to be built through their land), and the residents say they’d never heard of it come the meeting.
These details are too important to let slide.
While overall growth and vitality is exceptional because it transcends a decades-long problem of population loss, our communities must remain vigilant to protect themselves from overwhelming expansion.
If last week’s meeting was any indication of how Bainville residents react, there’s a lot surrounding communities can learn: They’re curious, boisterous and direct.
The town, just 30 minutes from oil boom epicenter of Williston, is already bursting at the seams with residents and in its school.
If Milino and his companies are serious about being long-term partners and becoming a positive contribution to Bainville, then by all means, stick to the promise that was made last week to do whatever’s necessary – including testifying before the Montana Legislature – to mitigate oil impacts.
We hate to see natives suffer in spite of economic vitality.