[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 10-11-06
bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Thu Oct 12 06:57:56 MDT 2006
We returned to meetings yesterday after our break for the League of Cities
and Towns conference and the Columbus day holiday.
The only item we covered in Conservation was the open space weed report from
David Claimant. There was a discussion about what sort of oversight this
program should have. The areas of concern often become technical and exceed
the expertise of the council, except for Marilyn. We will probably continue
the discussion to form some kind of oversight responsibility through the
County Weed Board.
In PAZ we did a few annexations. The only one that interested me was a piece
out at the end of Short Street. It's about 4.5 acres and will have about 16
units. If you look on the map there are two parcels in between the river and
Grove Street. This is one of them. The other is also being developed and we
should see it soon.
The interesting item here was a discussion of the Environmental Impact
Statement for Miller Creek Road. The state has been working for a few years
on a plan to alleviate the traffic on Lower Miller Creek road where it
connects with Highway 93 near Walmart. The preferred alternative in the EIS
calls for a redesign of the split at lower and upper miller creek with a
traffic light. Expansion of the road below that point to a five lane and
enhancement of the intersection and a light at Old Hwy 93 and Reserve
street. The idea being to funnel the traffic straight through the
intersection at Miller Creek and connect it to Reserve at the new light. The
DOT is looking for comment on the plan. You can read it and comment here:
The expected cost of these changes is ten million. The city was hoping for a
second access point to the area in the form of a bridge near blue mountain
road. That idea would cost around thirty million. In the next ten to
fifteen years there is a definite likelihood of a connection being made
between miller creek road and the East Side highway in the Bitterroot. If
any of you have not been out there in the last five or ten years you would
be shocked at how much development is back there. It will be only a few
years until it is filled in to Lolo.
We also discussed the idea of standardizing the contracting process used by
the city. Throughout the Aquatics project, each time there has been a change
order, a few on council have been complaining that the architects or
contractors should be responsible. Their main complaint is that if the
architect is also overseeing construction and serving as the owners
representative they have a conflict of interest in determining who should
pay for changes. Where the discussion ended was that staff was going to
explore the idea of having a construction management division within the
engineering department. That way, our firefighters could be fighting fires
and not building fire stations. Of course we would still want the fire
department involved with the design of their new buildings but they would
not be responsible for the actual construction (even though that project is
going exceptionally well). Apparently the City used to do things that way a
long time ago but moved to a more decentralized approach.
We have a guy named Alan White who works in Parks as a construction project
manager. Possibly we would re-assign him to play that role city wide. Jerry
suggested we look at how the University does it. They have a construction
management department but he also pointed out they do something like 15
million in construction every year. In recent years the city has been doing
a lot of big projects but historically, outside of roads, we don't.
Continuing to contract out those services may make sense if we can't
guarantee the position for more than a couple of years.
I'll also give a quick update on highlights from the league meeting. I
attended a presentation put on by Lewistown. They were having a problem with
the downtown essentially dieing. They brought in a consultant. Developed
this grand idea on how to redevelop and make the downtown really beautiful.
The business owners rebelled. It got ugly. So the mayor scrapped the project
and got a new consultant and formed a new steering committee that included
the business owners. They came up with a new plan that was much more modest.
They also did surveys of the population to find out what sort of stuff they
wanted. In general, they took the approach that there was no agenda and they
were just going to see what sort of things folks wanted. Even though it was
much more modest, a number of the things in the new plan have been
implemented and there is a much greater sense of trust and community now.
The downtown is becoming more healthy and the town is seeing a bunch of new
growth and investment that it hadn't seen in recent years.
One of the things they did that I would like to see us implement is little
displays in retail locations around town informing people of what is going
on and having little suggestion and survey ballot boxes. We could update
them every month or two. It would be a great way to keep people informed.
The governor gave the speech at lunch and he outlined the counties in the
western portion of the state that are experiencing growth. They form the
shape of a cowboy boot. If the ten counties in the boot were a state of
their own they would be the fastest growing economy in the country (I have
not verified that).
The number one asset we have, and the reason we are growing, is the quality
of life. According to Brian, quality of life issues such as open space and
the environment etc. are what drive the western Montana economy. The
counties outside the boot have a different story. Their asset is natural
resources. Then he got into his pitch for coal gasification.
There was a presentation on energy conservation building codes that I want
to follow up on with our engineering department. It was unclear to me which
of those things we already do.
There was also a presentation from Great Falls on public power. They are
building their own power plant and are making power available to the other
municipalities. This was very interesting. Here is a link to a power point
<ftp://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/Documents/League Document/MLCT Conference
Missoula City Council, Ward 3
bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
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