Put Down The Proverbial Crack Pipe, Missoula Parks And Rec!

by Travis Mateer

Those of you who are new to Missoula might not understand the intervention-level need we are facing with the green spaces in our fair town. From the abomination happening at Caras Park, to the million dollar meth-park makeover being outed as insane by a member of the impact fee advisory committee, it’s clear this municipal department is out of control.

While this pretty new grass is safely protected by chainlink as it “roots in”, the real fun is a few miles to the west, where proximity to the Poverello Center, Youth Homes and seedy motels ensures roots of a different nature have been established, roots the tax/crack smokers will readily ignore so that a million bucks can be thrown at this scenic spot for drug deals and alcohol abuse.

The lie behind this civic insanity is that landscaping can address societal decay. The reality is, it fuels it. And when one of your own people on the totally fun sounding impact fee advisory committee starts weening himself off the Kool-Aid and questioning these kinds of plans, well, that’s not good for Donna “Not-A-Financial Terrorist” Gaukler.

From the first link (emphasis mine):

A proposal to use development impact fees to improve a small, underutilized downtown park in Missoula sparked a broader discussion about the city’s plans in the area, investing in low-income neighborhoods and homelessness.

A high-level Missoula parks and recreation staff member and other city officials defended a decision to plan for nearly $950,000 in improvements to the Downtown Lions Park, an area that’s also a part of a key bike and pedestrian connection.

The debate ensued because a member of the city’s impact fee advisory committee, Hank Trotter, criticized the plan. He said the park is often used by homeless citizens and there aren’t many new housing units planned nearby in the near future. That means there aren’t many families and children that would use the park if it’s improved, especially considering there are other parks nearby, he claimed.

It’s pretty cool that a debate of any kind occurred at all, so thank you Hank Trotter! But I’m sure this project will go through regardless of criticism, especially if there’s a pedestrian bridge involved.

Quick question: is this a NEW pedestrian bridge represented in the above graphic, or the bridge to no where just up stream? Though I try to keep up with the bridges and all their problems in this town, I sometimes miss a thing or two.

To show how seriously uncaring this cabal’s minions are toward criticism, $150,000 dollars was directed on a 5 to 1 vote to design this bullshit.

On June 7, after a lengthy discussion, the committee voted 5-1 to approve $150,000 in impact fee funding for preliminary design costs to plan improvements to the park. The park is located just to the northeast of the California Street Pedestrian Bridge.

“Downtown Lions Park is located along Ron’s River Trail, a popular multi-use trail in downtown Missoula,” explained Ryan Applegate, the parks department’s business services superintendent, in a memo. “While the park is located along a heavily trafficked trail, the park itself is underdeveloped, dark, and has little infrastructure to support healthy activities.”

The emphasis is mine, and it’s the point in the article where I started laughing hysterically. The kind of laughter to stave off the weeping.

Yes, those of you who are new to the splendor of Big Sky country probably don’t know the story of Clay Salcido, the man pictured below who was violently stomped to death by two drunk teenagers on the California Street bridge.

Forrest “Clay” Salcido

Here’s the magic being proposed amidst the acrid cloud of pungent crack smoke: prepare the ground at Lions Park as a beachhead of green development in anticipation of the Sleepy Inn being developed and the Water Company building turning into, I would assume, more god-awful condos.

Do all that and the hope is the problems of addiction and mental health will be disappeared from this slice of redeveloped Missoula.

Maybe that’s how it will all play out. Of course, like all the schemes in this town–and the country, for that matter–it depends on the economy NOT blowing up. This week did the opposite of alleviating concerns we are on the economic precipice (as intended) of that happening.

Have a GREAT weekend!

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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