Gentrifiers Fix Their Development Gaze On Caras Park

by William Skink

What Covid-19? What NEW NORMAL?

There is absolutely no indication wafting from the illuminated brain trust running this town that there needs to be any reassessment of their GRAND MASTERPLAN, brought to you by Florida consulting firm, Dover and Kohl.

The latest news comes from that trusty cheerleader of development, the Missoula Current. It’s a warning to anyone who still cares about this town and hasn’t been priced out of it yet that the gentrifiers are coming for the beating heart of downtown, Caras Park.

You know that big hill your kids roll down during Out to Lunch? Gonna get a Jon Tester flattop. Obscured views and non-ADA approach to Brennan’s Wave? That’s get fixed. There will be better views, more amenities, and a reason to come down for a visit 365 days a year.

I don’t make it sound as fun as Gomer Kidston does, so here’s his spin:

Plans call for new public restrooms and a seamless trail system from the California Street pedestrian bridge to Missoula College. It also calls for a “ribbon” of parks along the water’s edge and hardened river access to prevent further bank erosion.

It could also create year-round market space for artists and vendors, giving the park uses beyond the summer months. An ice-skating “ribbon” would also extend the park’s seasonal uses.

“Right now, you go down there on a Saturday in January and there’s not a lot of activity there because there’s no reason to be there,” McLeod said. “We want to create amenities that will draw people into the park year round. That’s really important into the future.”

Nathan McLeod at Parks and Rec thinks it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to have reasons for people to visit Caras Park in January. That’s some mighty fine optimism he’s got going there because, personally, I think it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to survive the ECONOMIC DEPRESSION that is coming as millions of people CONTINUE filing for unemployment each week.

I’m writing more and more with the CAPS LOCK ON because I’m getting the sense a lot of people within local government don’t understand what is happening right now. They are just going about their business like the last few months were a little bump in the road.

Should we really be moving forward with a master plan that was dreamed up by Florida consultants BEFORE a pandemic popped the everything bubble? How does increasing density sound now? Can we afford more “ribbons” of parks that will need to be maintained (who am I kidding, they’ll probably turn into homeless camps).

It really amazes me that our local braintrust think they can both shut down businesses and destroy people’s lives, while at the same time move forward with all their development plans like nothing happened. They are already complaining about gaps in budgets and needing to panhandle the Feds and their lack of tools to raise revenue other than with property taxes, so how about a big FUCK NO to your ribbons of parks and ice-skating dreams.

Do the people you have elected still have your consent, Missoula? Or do you think it might be prudent and wise to see how the next 18 months shake out before trying to sell us on all the great things they are going to do with our money?

You know where I stand.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to Gentrifiers Fix Their Development Gaze On Caras Park

  1. JC says:

    Loved this one:

    “Color and multiple uses would be added to the gloomy underside of the Higgins Bridge.”

    Once upon a time kids would congregate under the bridges, and the street art was beautiful, and it was… dare I say it… “vibrant”. But no, it has to be studied, planned for, paid for, and then controlled. All that gloom? From the grey paint covering the street art and depressed attitudes from kids lurking (living) in the underbrush not far away from the bridge, chased away for loitering.

    But hey, let’s paint it all bright colors and manage multiple uses so the Karen’s and tag-alongs of the world can make the place less inviting for the have nots. Let’s move all the homeless kids a bit further out of sight, out of mind.

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