Mixed feelings emerge over Medora energy housing
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation has put off a proposal to lease the Bunkhouse Motel to energy companies, but is renting rooms to energy workers for a second winter.
"Our renting of these rooms will end in the spring and we'll turn those rooms over so that they are available for the traveling public in the summer time during our prime season," said TRMF President Randy Hatzenbuhler said.
TRMF recently held a public input meeting regarding the leasing of the Bunkhouse Motel in September.
"I can't imagine that there's going to be anything known through the winter because I don't even know if it's feasible in terms of the buildings," he said. "If somebody wants to do that, they have to figure out what those costs are and to my knowledge that hasn't happened yet."
The Bunkhouse is closed for the winter. The Badlands Motel is usually closed in the winter, but TRMF will keep it open for energy workers until May, he said.
"There's no question there's more activity in town this fall and will be through the winter than what we've historically seen in town," Hatzenbuhler said. "We've been happy to have the business and to my knowledge there haven't been any issues at all."
Medora resident Jane Muggli spoke against leasing the Bunkhouse and has mixed feelings over housing energy workers at the Badlands Motel in the winter.
"I'm not condoning any of it," she said. "I adapted to it last year, but that doesn't mean I'm against it either."
Mayor Doug Ellison thinks it's a positive step for Medora.
"Having people in town is always good," he said.
Muggli can see the benefit to businesses, but doesn't like how it's changing the town.
"We're all learning patience for the first time in our lives because we have to wait in line," Muggli said. "We have to sit at intersections. We have to do all these things that, gosh, we just don't know how to do without getting angry."
She said it's not the workers that bother her.
"I'm so weary of this oil boom because I've been through it before and it wasn't the best situation," Muggli said. "It forever changed my community of Dickinson, which only somewhat healed in the last 10 or 12 years. I don't know if I'm up to doing this again or not."
She doesn't want to see Medora scarred by the impact.
"I thought I found the last refuge ... now I have to share it and those are things that I have to adapt to and those are not things that are easy to do," Muggli said.
She also worries about the impact more people in the town will have on infrastructure, such as the city's lagoon.
Ellison said officials are looking into whether the lagoon will handle the influx.
Badlands Motel typically opens in March or April, but energy workers can stay until May.
"We've got the Rough Riders Hotel that we'll be using for the groups in the spring and if we have a group that's blocked rooms for a certain time, those things will be honored," he said.
In addition to Badlands Motel, other services are being offered year-round to accommodate energy workers, Hatzenbuhler said.