Fundraiser Begins for South Campus Patio Project

Money will pay for outdoor space on county’s new building after patio was cut from the budget

By Molly Priddy

A grassroots effort is underway to finance a patio and outdoor seating area for Flathead County’s new South Campus building, which will house the county’s Agency on Aging program as well as the Kalispell Senior Center.

The patio was one of the items cut by the Flathead County Commission during its Jan. 28 hearing, during which the commission addressed the $7 million cost of the building and cut about $250,000 worth of items for the project.

Removing the patio from the west side of the building saved about $10,000 for the project, though the senior community invested in seeing the new building come to fruition was upset at the prospect of losing their outdoor seating.

In response, a new fundraising campaign has started to bring in the money needed to keep the patio. Commissioner Phil Mitchell suggested such a fundraising effort during the Jan. 28 meeting.

Diane Miller, a morning producer at radio station KGEZ, said she decided to start a donation fund when she found out the patio was cut from the project because she knew many people who were upset with the decision.

“People are relaxed on the patio,” Miller said. “It makes it less institutional and more personal.”

The South Campus Patio Project seeks to bring in $35,500 for “the basic items” needed for the patio, Miller said. This includes funding for a covering for the outdoor space to protect from sun and rain, as well as having places to sit and furniture.

“It’s got wonderful backing,” Miller said. “Contributions for the fundraiser are starting to come in.”

All of the money raised will go toward a special line account for the project, and will be deposited with the Flathead County treasurer. The Agency on Aging will be the recipient for the money and other donations.

Project leaders have set up a P.O. Box for donations: The South Campus Patio Project, P.O. Box 473, Kalispell, 59903. Checks should be made out to the Flathead County Treasurer, and must have “SCPP” or “South Campus Patio Project” in the memo.

Walk-in donations are also accepted at KGEZ in Kalispell.

All of these donations are tax deductible, Miller said.

Removing the patio from the South Campus project was a contentious decision on the board of commissioners, with Commissioner Gary Krueger opposed to eliminating the outdoor space for the project.

Commissioners Pam Holmquist and Phil Mitchell voted in favor of the removal, saying the patio fell more along the lines of a “want” than a “need” for the seniors.

The South Campus building broke ground on March 11, and will eventually house the AOA, the Kalispell Senior Center, the county’s IT department, space for the Flathead City-County Health Department, and the county’s maintenance department.

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