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…