[MissoulaGov] 2-19-14

Jason Wiener JWiener at ci.missoula.mt.us
Thu Feb 20 00:04:01 CST 2014


Good evening.



We had just two committee meetings today, LUP and Public Works, with two major items discussed.



In LUP, we spent most of our time covering the recently constructed building at 225 N Russell, which will house Lifestyle Fitness. As the readers of the listserv will know from recent traffic on the list, there have been concerns expressed about how the building addresses the street as well as some of the apertunances on the southeast corner for utilities. Staff presented how the building was reviewed when plans were submitted and we heard from both staff and the developer about the design challenges presented by the zoning overlay in place and the roadway project in process. Staff has recommended some changes to review, including sending projects of this magnitude to the item to the Design Review Team that includes planners, engineers, utility representatives and such; this happens often but didn't in this case and might have led to changes in the location of utility features. Also, staff has promised to work more closely with Missoula Redevelopment Agency on design considerations for future projects in the corridor. The developer has promised to re-fit the building with different ventilation systems that don't protrude into the sidewalk easment and, honestly, took a pretty good attitude to the additional scutinty on his project. The developer also raised some consideration regarding the final grade of the road and how to connect that in an ADA accessible way that will have to be part of the design considerations for the design work going on for Russell Street. For Council's part, this particular referral is complete but we are likely to see a new referral concerning the extent and details of the Southside Neighborhood Overlay that controls zoning in the area, possibly incorportating elements of the Pedestrian Overlay that exists in zoning but isn't applied anywhere yet. For my part, the constraints confronted on this project illustrate the difficulty in bringing the type of land-use illustrated in the designs for Russell Street to the parcels adjacent to a street designed mainly with autombile traffic in mind. I think it is very important to deliver on the illustrations included with the various cross-sections for Russell Street that show an urban boulevard, and we clearly have work to do to get there. The tensions in the road and design reminded me of this video I watched a while back: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2013/3/4/the-stroad.html



In Public Works, we spent most of our time talking about the 5-year plan for sidewalk building. Staff developed three scenarios that built out the sidewalk network in 10 to 50 years at costs ranging from the status quo $400K per year to $1.3 to $2.5 million per year for the ten-year-plan, with the requirement to add engineering staff for additional annual work. It was a good summary of the policy directions available during the coming budget cycle based on the existing need for new construction and ongoing maintenance.



The options are laid out here:

http://missoula.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/view.aspx?cabinet=published_meetings&fileid=115455

http://missoula.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/view.aspx?cabinet=published_meetings&fileid=115456



The first document discusses the funding options in general as well as laying out the detail for each project and when/how the project would be funded under each of the options presented. The second document provides a summary of costs in each year under each scenario. There is unlikely to be sufficient will to raise the money for the quickest option, at least off the bat, and Ed made the point that option 2 could be made to accomplish more if it accelerates building where there is less requirement for extensive street work, which ends up being about 2/3 of the overall cost estimated for completing the sidewalk network. The information presented will be back shortly during the CIP and budget discussion. After the meeting, there was a fair bit of head shaking about how regrettable it is that local gas tax is not an option for this work. For a few cents a gallon, we could build out city infrastructure everywhere in the city and put a lot of contractors to work doing so, but the legislature doesn't make that easy or even feasible really. As long as property taxes are the only accessible source of revenue, the build out of sidewalks will go more slowly than people like. Still, there's a path to completion in all of this and, well, politics is the slow boring of hard boards if nothing else.



Thanks for your interest.

J.



*********
Jason Wiener, Alderman, Ward One
1122 Jackson St.
Missoula, MT 59802
(406) 542-3232[X]
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