A leading national firm specializing in the development of theme and cultural parks will aid in the development of a revised plan for Frontier Village in Jamestown, according to Brian Lunde, a local businessman organizing and sponsoring the project.
Lunde became interested in finding a way to improve the Frontier Village area during the recent controversy between the city of Jamestown and the Frontier Village Association. The city of Jamestown declined to renew the land lease for the Frontier Village area prompting the Frontier Village Association to plan to move buildings and artifacts out of state. The dispute was recently resolved when Frontier Village Association agreed to transfer its rights to any property on the site to the city of Jamestown.
"We're looking at a four-month planning process," Lunde said. "There is not taxpayer money involved in this."
Apogee Attractions of Porter Ranch, California, has a long history of planning and designing attractions with places like Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and Busch Gardens listed on its resume.
"There is nobody in Apogee's league," Lunde said.
Lunde said the plan developed by Apogee, in conjunction with local tourism and city leaders, could place Frontier Village on the map as a state and national destination. It could also help fulfill the plans made by civic leaders back in the Village's early days, he said.
"They were already thinking big," Lunde said, referring to a 1960s-era booklet giving the concept and plan for a pioneer village centered around the World's Largest Buffalo Monument, schoolhouse, church, art gallery and depot that were already on the site. "They envisioned a bustling interactive cultural park. What are we pitching? A bustling interactive cultural park. We haven't lived up to their vision."
The new four-month planning effort could result in concept documents and a master plan.
The old plan, designed by local architect Gilbert Horton, included a similar layout as the current Frontier Village with a sod house, claim shanty, jail and general store, along with other buildings. The east end of Frontier Village, near the current stagecoach and pony ride area, was planned for an "Old-Timer Square" where there would be shaded benches for the older residents of the area to sit and tell stories.
"I think 60 years ago, they had a pretty grandiose vision," said Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism. "His (Lunde's) goal is to put a big dream out in front of us."
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said he appreciated Lunde's effort.
"Everything is on the table," he said. "Interested organizations that have thoughts should bring them forward."
Pam Phillips, member of the Jamestown City Council and chair of the Jamestown Civic Center and Promotion Committee, said it will take outside money to accomplish the project.
"We can't rely on tax money," she said. "... but I'm excited to see what Brian (Lunde) will find."
Lunde said the intent is to develop a plan that generates financial support from around the country at no cost to the local taxpayer.
"I believe this initiative must be accomplished at no additional cost to the hard-working taxpayers of Jamestown," he said. "They are already doing their part to support our tourism promotion programs."
The project will likely develop around the themes of the World's Largest Buffalo Monument and the National Buffalo Museum and be "worthy of philanthropic support from all over the country," Lunde said.
Swedlund said it is impossible to judge the feasibility of the project at this time although it does give the community a chance to change and improve Frontier Village for the future.
"Most communities would trip over themselves to have something like this," Swedlund said. "We're fortunate to have someone who thinks big about the opportunity."