Fort Chouteau tower now constructed; city maintenance agreement for site in place

November 23, 2017

At their regular meeting on Monday, Fort Pierre city councilmembers approved payment for work on the 28-foot-tall bastion that has been constructed at the Fort Pierre Chouteau site. The work was done by R&W Construction.

Although the $34,879.50 payment is being administered by the City of Fort Pierre, the funds were provided by the Pierre/Fort Pierre Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), raised through grants and private donations.

Fort Pierre Chouteau is a 34-acre site on the northern edge of the city, where a fur trade/military fort once stood. It’s named after fur trader and merchant Pierre Chouteau,

This summer HPC president Don Zeller told the Capital Journal the tower-like structure is hoped to catch more people’s attention as they drive down Highway 1806.

Early Monday afternoon, the tower appeared done, but construction equipment remained at the site. Public Works Director Rick Hahn described the project as finished to the council, saying there was just a bit of cleanup work yet to be done and some minor issues identified by some members of the HPC who’d visited the side.

Related to the Fort Chouteau site was another item on the council’s Monday agenda – a $4,000 agreement between the city and the HPC and the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for maintenance of the site.

The agreement covers a second historic site in the city – the Verendrye Monument, which is located on a hill overlooking the city. It’s where Francois and Louis-Joseph Verendrye buried a lead plate in 1743, claiming the area for France.

The item had been postponed at the council’s previous meeting, when councilmember Bob Ricketts’ attention was drawn to a “hold harmless” clause in the agreement. That led to a question about the city’s liability insurance: Did the city’s insurance extend to those properties? Ricketts wanted that question answered before approving the agreement.

On Monday, Ricketts was satisfied with Roxanne Heezen’s report from her conversation with the city’s insurance carrier to the effect that the “hold harmless” language was standard, saying “I’m good with it, then.” The council voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

The $4,000 cost is meant to cover various city responsibilities outlined in the agreement. For the Verendrye Monument, they include providing an irrigation system in good working order, electrical service, U.S. and South Dakota flags, spraying for noxious weeds and mowing. For the Fort Chouteau site, the city’s responsibilities also include spraying for weeds.

For both sites, the city is responsible for trash receptacles, litter clean-up and regular trash pickup, as well as regular law enforcement patrols.

The SHPO also has responsibilities under the agreement, including provision of French fleur-de-lis flags, interpretive program signage, and renovation when that becomes necessary.