Mountain Gateway Project Misguided

The infrastructure is not in place for this immense development

By Aaron Pitman

Mountain Gateway PUD is a Trojan horse, thinly disguised as affordable housing and land for a fire station that will irrevocably change the landscape of Whitefish, set a dangerous precedent for future development, and degrade our safety and quality of life. This project is, at best, misguided and, at worst, borders on negligence.

The infrastructure is not in place for this immense development. This should have been a hard stop for the developers and city staff. A comment by then four-term City-County Planning Board member Scott Sorensen in the 2009 Whitefish Transportation Plan rings truer today: “The two biggest needed major projects are 1) Wisconsin Avenue from the viaduct to Whitefish Mountain Resort and 2) a car/truck 93 bypass on the west side of town … Everything else is less needed.” Twelve years later, no meaningful progress has been made on either issue. This project creates a new, high-density, car-dependent community, through significant zoning changes, which is reckless when the main egress for a mass evacuation will depend on an already overburdened road ending at a choke point over the railroad tracks. At a minimum it warrants an independent traffic analysis and recommendation.

This project is incongruous with existing neighborhoods and will degrade our quality of life. Are we committed to keeping Whitefish’s “small town feel and ambiance”, to making our town walkable and bikeable as part of a comprehensive plan to improve quality of life and traffic flow? Or will we capitulate to those with money who want growth at any cost?

Affordable housing is at a crisis point, but this is not the way to address the issue. This is a problem disguised as a solution. It places financial gain for a small group above the community members who are the heart and soul of this town.

Aaron Pitman

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