Transportation Plan Update Criticized

By Beacon Staff

Most of the citizens weighing in on an update to the 2006 Kalispell Area Transportation plan Monday night recommended further study and deliberation before the city takes any action. The transportation plan, a supplement to the city’s growth policy, addresses areas within the city and up to three miles outside city limits. All but one of the speakers at the Kalispell City Council meeting believed the transportation plan was not ready for primetime.

Kathleen Krager, traffic engineer for Glacier Town Center developer James “Bucky” Wolford, said she had major concerns with what she saw as inconsistencies within the plan. She advised the council to explore more funding options at the federal, state and local levels including a local sales tax and gas tax.

Denise Smith, executive director for the Flathead Business and Industry Association, echoed Krager’s position and called the plan reactionary. Smith also criticized the plan for failing to include land acquisition fees.

“I encourage the council to consider whether it is accurate before impact fees are adopted,” Smith said. “Are the costs outlined true, or does further information need to be gathered?”

Implementation of illicit stormwater discharge regulations moved quickly to vote, passing its second reading eight-to-one. Councilman Wayne Saverud proposed an amendment to a section of the ordinance calling for municipal court to settle an appeal rather than city council. The amendment failed five-to-four.

A resolution to abandon alleys around Flathead High School passed seven-to-two. The plan calls for a portion of Fourth Avenue West, which the school already owns, to be landscaped, eliminating additional parking spaces around the high school. Figures suggest that 50 percent of the 600 Flathead High seniors drive to school everyday. Glacier High School is expected to take on half of Flathead High’s seniors next year, freeing 150 parking spaces.

Phase one of Silverbrook Estates, which includes 107 single family residential lots on 73 acres on the west side of Highway 93, passed unanimously.

Kalispell City Council meets again March 17th.