Scrutinizing a swimming hole 

Before the weather even warmed enough for a weekend swim, a routine zoning proposal put one of Missoula’s favorite local swimming holes in hot water.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, a proposal to allow condominiums on a shore adjacent to the Deer Creek bridge—a favorite East Missoula dip complete with beaches and bridge-jump—sparked anxiety from homeowners at Canyon River Golf Course, which lines the side of the river slated for condos.

“It is a quiet, family place and we would like it to stay that way,” said Mary Oestreich, a Canyon River homeowner, expressing fears that “the congestion on Deer Creek Road will worsen with new condos.”

The Council punted on the zoning request and sent it back to committee, but not before Canyon River homeowners voiced numerous objections, the most persistent of them dealing with summertime swimmers.

“When you drive into the property, it’s gotta be first class,” said Canyon River developer Wayne Paffhausen, lamenting the riff-raff that congregate during the summer months. “Down at Deer Creek Road, you wouldn’t believe it. We’ve got people out there jumping off the bridge! We’ve got reports of them stopping cars, getting on the hoods, and beating on the sides of vehicles.”

“We all paid 15,000 extra bucks for that primo property,” added Sally Evans, another Canyon River homeowner. “We chose that lot because there weren’t any trailers around, and it was so nice to be next to three other beautiful homes.”

Missoula County planner Jennie Dixon clarified that the sheriff has agreed to police congestion and parking on the bridge, and added that parking problems still persist on the golf course side of the bridge.

The proceedings left councilmember Bob Jaffe puzzled by the site’s popularity, which took some explaining from Mayor John Engen.

“If you’re of an age that’s much younger than I am,” Engen said, “and you look a lot better in a Speedo than I do, then you find yourself spending a lot of time there when it’s hot in the summertime.”
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