Cash-in-Lieu of Parking Fee Established Downtown, Wastewater Plant Honored

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell City Council Monday night voted to set a fee downtown builders may pay in lieu of setting aside space for parking. Because parking in downtown Kalispell is so scarce, anyone building an addition to an existing structure, or constructing something new must either provide a parking space for every 400 square feet of the structure, or can now pay $8,200.

City Planner Tom Jentz explained that fee was arrived at by two separate appraisals assessing the cost of building a parking space on Main Street, and one block off of Main Street, then averaging those two amounts together. The city assesses the fee proportionally, therefore an individual adding a 95 square-foot addition to a building must pay about a quarter of the $8,200 fee. City officials emphasized the fee creates a new option for downtown developers, since prior to establishing the fee, a new structure couldn’t go up at all if the builder was unable to provide the parking to go along with it.

Council also voted, 7-1, to add a 1,600 square-foot mezzanine to the city hall remodeling project at a cost not to exceed $80,000. City Manager Jim Patrick said the mezzanine would add 5 new office spaces at about $50 per square foot. Patrick said he anticipated the new city hall opening up, depending on elevator construction, at the end of Oct. or Nov. for the first two floors, and about a month later for the second floor. The project was originally slated to be wrapped up by the end of Aug., but several building changes have caused the delay and the contractor has not defaulted, Patrick said.

Kalispell’s Wastewater Treatment Plant won first place as the best facility in the country of its size. Bill Bahr, environmental specialist for the state Department of Environmental Quality and the presenter for the federal Environmental Protection Agency presented the WWTP staff with the award for excellence in operation and maintenance of a plant processing between one million and 10 million gallons per day. Kalispell also took first place in the regional competition for the third time.

A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15 to determine whether the growth policy should be amended rezoning 116 acres north of Foys Lake Road and west of South Meridian Road from industrial to residential.

Council also approved a Parks and Recreation fee schedule for the current fiscal year and approved a resolution allowing the city to be reimbursed for expenses incurred prior to bond closing for the WWTP expansion construction.

In the work session after the meeting adjourned, several Centurytel executives also made their case for why they should be the vendor setting up the telephone system in the new city hall building.