Frontier Village needs executable vision, Jamestown Tourism official says – Jamestown Sun

Revenue, vision that is executable, governance and addressing or having a plan for deferred maintenance are four related components to keep Frontier Village moving in the right direction, according to Searle Swedlund, Jamestown Tourism executive director.
Swedlund presented information about Frontier Village to Jamestown City Council members during the Civic Center and Promotion Committee meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16. He asked for the continued support of Frontier Village from the city of Jamestown.
When I asked for the city support, is that they will help us bring the property to a position or condition where a new group or new entity will say this is something we can work on,” he said Monday.
Frontier Village is owned by the city of Jamestown and is currently managed by Jamestown Tourism.
“When we make decisions we make them cautiously, thoughtfully and obviously in context with folks who have the capacity to advise us about those decisions,” he said. “That is not an ideal long-term solution for a number of reasons.”
He said the Bison World project will have great potential to influence what happens to Frontier Village in the future.
“We are very hopeful that some of those decisions and the viability of that project will come to fruition in the months to come, giving us even more information than we have now,” he said.
Swedlund said 87% of visitors of Frontier Village answered that they would visit both the village and Bison World if the project for the bison-themed cultural and entertainment park comes to fruition.
Mayor Dwaine Heinrich agreed that Bison World will play a large role in what happens to Frontier Village in the future.
Bison World is planned to occupy about 120 acres of land near the intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and Interstate 94 at Jamestown. The land is owned by the state of North Dakota and was part of the grant to the Dakota Territory when what is now the North Dakota State Hospital was constructed in 1883. The land is leased to the National Buffalo Museum and utilized as buffalo pasture.
Bison World has a preliminary cost estimate of $72 million.
Swedlund said one idea to make revenue is to charge an admission fee to Frontier Village.
We have so many people who are interested in that solution that finding consensus about what that means, how it works and who pays what, it’s just very difficult,” he said Monday. “If we start charging we have to figure out how to address all the needs of all those folks, very difficult.
Jamestown Tourism is proposing a solution to create an experience by using the general store to generate revenue for Frontier Village.
“We believe just on ice cream cones and offering some items for sale that reflect the North Dakota experiences has that potential to begin to generate some revenues,” he said.
Swedlund said the branding for Frontier Village would be complete before summer begins and that Jamestown Tourism will assist with the startup of the general store by making sure the inventory, business model and business plan are ready for the summer.
Swedlund said Frontier Village needs a vision that is executable. He said he believes it is the right time for that vision.
“You need a document and tools and the history that help the next generation of folks understand how to do that work,” he said.
He said a document on the strategic vision of Frontier Village will help reflect all the needs of the village.
“(It’s) a way to begin conversations with whatever future entity might come into play,” he said. “It's just a way to pass on knowledge and information as we make transitions in the future.”
He said a survey was sent to gather information from Frontier Village visitors who are local or were visiting that came off of Interstate 94.
“What I thought was really interesting about this was the nature of how people prioritize value and experiences,” he said, referring to how high local visitors scored values and new experiences at Frontier Village.
The visitors also placed a monetary value on how much they expect to spend at Frontier Village, he said.
“The answer is zero to $40,” he said. He said visitors from I-94 even have a higher value than the locals.
“That is to say food, souvenirs, donations, experiences, that is a cost reference,” he said. “You begin to understand it doesn't have to be free, that it can have a value to people.”
Swedlund said deferred maintenance is a big issue long term.
“There is just a lot of facilities out there that I believe were placed with the (intention) that over time that better opportunities, better structures and better buildings would be placed there,” he said.
He said the Eagles Railroad Parkette and Kiwanis Homesteader Parkette will be complete in 2022. The educational parkettes were ideas that were tested in the summer.
Eagles Railroad Parkette includes a small train track with handheld train cars.
“We will have the opportunity to teach the myriad of educational opportunities that relate to the railroad and more, specifically the railroad in Jamestown,” he said.

Kiwanis Homesteader Parkette includes opportunities for kids to learn what it was like to be a homesteader in the past.
“Homesteading would have been at the core of many of our ancestor stories,” he said. “The way which people needed to build their lives here, we think it could be replicated with play.”
Swedlund said about $50,000 was donated to Frontier Village by community members that is dedicated to making improvements to the village to enhance visitors' experience.

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