This bridge and street improvement project was identified at the "top of the list" in the early '90's. It got kicked down a notch when the community decided through its elected officials to do North Reserve instead and the funds for Russell were reprogrammed. By the end of the'90's it was back up again and planning on Russell Street and Third Street began in 1999. Orange Street Bridge was able to take advantage of CMAQ funds and MRA TIF funding to get done ahead of Russell Street. In 2005, then-Senator Max Baucus presented the City with a $6million appropriation from the Federal government to help with the Russell Street Bridge. Now, over 11 years later, I can't say where that $6 million went, but I am fairly certain it isn't worth the same today as it was then.
There was an opportunity in ten years ago to undertake a comprehensive look at how Russell Street from the river to Third might have been beneficially redeveloped. The energy created by the Old Sawmill District would have been a wonderfully complimentary development energy--Missoula's heart could have been planned and created terrific opportunities for both public and private investments. Instead...
The point is, sometimes not doing something is deciding. Lost opportunity costs are lost and we live with them as sure as if we chose them.
In the City of Missoula it is illegal to post flyers like this on utility poles. Therefore, they are illegal like litter or, at best, abandoned property. In either case, removing them is a civic duty. I don't know if, as a state institution, UM is covered by the City's ordinance.
"Hind sight is always 20/20" the saying goes. Of course many Missoulians supported the charge to acquire Mountain Water and after a long haul, their faith in that effort seems to be fulfilled. There is still no full accounting for the cost, though. We don't yet know what the acquisition will do to rates. We do not know for sure how Mountain Water's charitable contributions or their tax payments will be made up with City ownership. We don't know how vigorously the City will undertake to correct the infrastructure deficiencies they identified as part of the need for public ownership.
With that in mind, will the Council have the courage and foresight to "ring fence" the municipal water service so that it does not become a cash cow for the City? In other words, will they operate in such a way that fees derived from ratepayers stay strictly in the provision of water services and do not find their way into the City's General Fund? These things need to be watched very closely because absent open and accountable consideration, our new water company can become an area of municipal abuse. NOW is the time to ask these questions, NOW is the time to get answers and sound policy-making underway. In five or ten years, I don't want anyone looking back at this issue with 20/20 hindsight saying "coulda, shoulda, woulda."
Thanks, Dan. It helps when cyclists and motorists BOTH obey the traffic laws. The chief law, though, has to be to operate with safety. And, yes, motorists, when you have the right of way, please do us all a favor and take it--safely.
Most Montana municipalities own their water systems because they developed them from the beginning. That was not Missoula's experience. Missoula's system was developed, for its first half century or so, by a company with shirt-tail relations to the Anaconda Copper Company. When that company wanted to get out of the water business, it tried to sell it to Missoula in the '70's, but the City couldn't/wouldn't pay the price, so Sam Wheeler and Park Water Company got it. It is very clear why Missoula's water system situation is different than other Montana cities, but that doesn't make it abnormal or wrong on its face.
In the mid-80's, the City tried to acquire it through eminent domain and lost that effort at the Montana Supreme Court. Sam Wheeler had major heartburn, it seems, over the City's attempt and vowed to never sell to the City. After Carlyle got it and the City subsequently decided to try to acquire it again, it would have been helpful if it were clear how circumstances of necessity and the law of eminent domain had changed such that a reasonable person would expect an outcome from an appeal different from the Supreme Court's ruling in the mid '80's. Surely it was more than different judges hearing the case.
How many times did the City testify before the Public Service Commission (the regulator of private utilities like Mountain Water in Montana) about Mountain Water's alleged neglect of the system? It would have been a timely way to protect the interests of the people of Missoula if there were a problem, and that would have been an excellent venue for making the City's argument for necessity, and would have established a record of fact-finding that would have helped make the City's case for condemnation. Yes, it seems looking backwards, the cost of litigating this issue is way higher than was estimated, but the opportunity to appear before the Public Service Commission has been there all along. And it wouldn't have cost $6 million.
Caras Park in the form we know it today was built in 1985. I think of all the people who have visited it, created memories with their families there, or simply had a good time over the past 30 years and it just makes me smile. Are there fancier parks? Yes. Are there more glamorous parks? No doubt. But Caras Park is Missoula's "rec room." It's where we go to hear a concert, hold a rally, host a wedding or class reunion--whatever--it's OURs. It's the BEST.
A woman like Ellie Hill as the leader of the Revolution? Go for it!
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