The Frontier Village in some form is a part of the future as planners work towards a bigger and grander plan for the tourist attraction on the southside of Jamestown, according to Bob McTyre, president of Apogee Attractions, a consulting company exploring the future possibilities of the site.
"Keep it ... fix it first," he told a group of tourist officials and other interested parties Tuesday in Jamestown. "In the future, at a minimum, it will function as the main street does at Disneyland. We hope to do more than that."
McTyre and his company were brought into the project through the efforts of Jamestown businessman Brian Lunde. McTyre was previously vice president of entertainment for Walt Disney Attractions. Since forming his own company, he has gathered a team of experts with a combined 100 years of experience developing theme and cultural destination parks.
The intent would be to create a cultural attraction around the bison or buffalo. A working concept, although it may not be the final title of the project, is "The Buffalo City Park."
"The bison theme is phase one," McTyre said. "That is the reason we are unique. That is the high concept."
Searle Swedlund, director of Jamestown Tourism, said the Frontier Village held an appeal to the public in the past.
"The Frontier Village represents a model very important to a generation of visitors," he said. "The generation that will continue to visit is looking for a high engagement experience. We need to make room for that."
A cultural park needs to offer educational items, entertainment and variety that attract all ages of visitors, McTyre said.
"It's not a theme park or a dusty old museum," he said. "You need entertainment to make it fun and it has to have variety."
Possible interactive entertainment features could be gondola rides over the buffalo pasture or even zip line rides into some of the gullies and ravines in the area.
"The public doesn't mind paying for experiences if you give them value," McTyre said.
Possible plans also include making the National Buffalo Museum more interactive.
"A move toward being a discovery center," McTyre said. "Something more hands on."
McTyre said fees charged at the attractions would create the revenue stream that would maintain the site and allow it to "offer something new on a regular basis."
"Once we have the investment, we can make improvements that then create the revenue stream for growing and enhancing the facility," he said.
All the plans being discussed are long-term.
"This is not going to be accomplished in a year or two," McTyre said. "The master plan we'll develop is for 10 or more years, then we work forward towards the future."
In the meantime, Swedlund said Jamestown Tourism is working on a budget of about $80,000 to operate and maintain the village through the coming summer. That budget includes $30,000 for an inventory of the artifacts of the village. The city of Jamestown has applied for grant funding from the North Dakota Historical Society to cover part of that cost.
McTyre and his staff at Apogee Attractions are in the process of developing a "bubble diagram" which would indicate possible attractions that could be developed and how people could move around the area. From that, a master plan could be developed with a more detailed view of the plan possibly developed over the next three or four months.
"As consultants, we're here to find out what the community wants and to make recommendations," he said. "At the end of the day, it is our goal to give the community what it wants."