On Sewers, Both Literal And Figurative

by William Skink

What do you think of when you think sewers?

If you think about sewers at all, it might be to marvel at the modern infrastructure that makes our shit disappear down the toilet. The more metaphorical thinkers may envision places where politics happen, like the nexus of fecal flows we call Washington DC.

For the purpose of this post I want you to think about sewers as tentacles reaching out from the urbanized core of the CITY of Missoula. While there are certainly benefits to having sewer services, the cost is not always cheerily supported by those impacted.

Over a decade ago, when this country was dealing with the first detonation of Wall Street’s reckless greed bombs, residents of the Rattlesnake were not universally joyous over connecting to the city sewer system. From the link:

A $4 million project to run sewer lines into Missoula’s Rattlesnake neighborhood has residents talking about, and grumbling about, the pricetag.

“It’s tough when the economy is down for people to look at sizable assessments like that when they are just scrambling to make ends meet,” said Pete DeWit, who moved into the Rattlesnake Valley in 1990.

The assessments for the proposed special improvement district run roughly $4,000 to $6,000 on average, but some are more than $10,000. The project would bring sewer pipes to some 300 properties in the middle Rattlesnake, the last large unsewered neighborhood in the city.

So, why am I thinking about sewers? Is it because the DNC recently concluded their multi-day infomercial for dementia Joe and his sidekick Copmala?

No, it’s because the tentacles are now reaching for the Wye (my emphasis):

With development interest growing and infrastructure lacking, Missoula County has taken the first step toward creating a new Targeted Economic Development District at the Wye.

Commissioners adopted a resolution declaring an infrastructure deficiency on roughly 600 acres north and south of the Interstate 90 interchange, beginning a process that will result in two hearings later this year that could result in the new district.

Areas around the Wye may be suitable for similar growth and development, though to establish the district, it has to be found lacking infrastructure, according to the county. That could include transportation, water, sewer or broadband, among other deficiencies.

Brownlow said an initial infrastructure review found the area was lacking nearly all of it in various forms.

While there are plenty of rational, common sense arguments for why extending sewer-lines is a good investment of public dollars, a big component of getting public support is having PUBLIC TRUST in the political decision makers.

I don’t see how anyone actually paying attention to how local resources are allocated can say they trust our elected braintrust. While they dream BIG DREAMS of resurrecting passenger trains and going ZERO WASTE, I’m still driving across a functionally obsolete bridge while local homeless advocates claim a complete inability to address the Reserve Street encampments.

Regarding the latter topic, I’ll be a guest on KGVO’s Talk Back Missoula later this morning to describe my direct experiences working in the area as the Homeless Outreach Coordinator for the Poverello Center. Should be interesting. Tomorrow’s post should be a summary of that appearance, so stay tuned…

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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2 Responses to On Sewers, Both Literal And Figurative

  1. Tim A says:

    It hasn’t been covered hardly at all in the city media, but after Jean Curtiss lost her “in the bag” primary in 2018, she was hired by the Seeley Lake Sewer District. She’s now been spearheading and driving one of the most unethical balls to the wall campaigns against rural and older people I’ve ever seen. (of course for $40 an hour and full benefits)
    Jean and Co found that some algae concerns in Seeley Lake might need to be remediated but instead of putting the cost on the lakeside owners who can afford higher taxes to fix it, she pushed for the entire city to be put on a city sewer system at a cost that would make water bills be about $300-400 a month to pay for the debt. This is an ongoing saga the Pathfinder has covered, but from suing new electees so they could not be seated on the board to fight against the new sewer to using the Health Dept to threaten individual landowners, it’s been super dirty and mafia like. This woman 6 months prior was touting her experience in fighting for affordable housing and now she’s making people like my parent’s have to consider giving up their lifelong home because there’s no way in hell a government bureaucrat can stand trying to work in the private sector.
    I find it sickening. Our “representative” Baby Huey Hopkins actually carried the $80 million of debt in the last legislature for the Dems and works for the university when he’s not helping Forward Montana or MontPirg build their voter database for the Dems. Who exactly do you vote for when the Republicans living with sue-happy mommy from California are the “alternative” to the Democrats???

    • I was not familiar with any of that, thank you Tim. you are touching on one of the many challenges people in the rural parts of our county are dealing with. when I worked at Missoula Aging Services older residents of rural Missoula County were a big focus. just lining up transportation for people who don’t have immediate help from family can be a big challenge.

      one of the many consequences of Missoula’s affordable housing crisis is older people on fixed incomes getting pushed farther and farther out to live because it’s cheaper. the sudden obsession over trains by elected luminaries such as Dave Strohmaier is, IMO, just a big, stupid pipe dream that distracts from the much more pressing needs of people in places like Seeley.

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