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Cats on broadway missoula
Hoping to attract more of your community's seniors, the Missoula County Commission this week will present a program on what is being offered in senior services to the county's seniors and the rest of the community. The presentation is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Services Board room at the Missoula County Government Center, 645 E. Johnson, Missoula.
For more information on senior services or this program, call 236-2600.
The board will vote on the proposed 2013 budget, which totals $48.6 million, Wednesday, March 6, at 5 p.m. in Missoula County Commission Chambers, second floor, Missoula County Government Center, 645 E. Johnson St. The public is invited to attend and those interested can call 236-2600 for information.
The Missoula County Commission has voted to take ownership of the county's Community Development Block Grant program and plans to make a presentation to senior officials March 15 to discuss the possible implementation of the $12.6 million in grant funding.
Officials said the program was established in 2001 when the Missoula County Commission voted to create a community grant program in order to use part of the proceeds from the county's sales tax revenues. The county would have had the flexibility to use grant money for things like new jobs, new roads, school construction, the construction of the regional community center or other community-related purposes.
However, Missoula County's Community Development Department wasn't eligible to participate in the program until last year.
"This year we have funding available in it, so we want to at least have it on the table, if not give it to them to look at, so we can maybe make some changes that need to be made so we can move forward and begin taking advantage of the funds," County Administrator Dan Evans said.
In 2010, the Missoula County Commission set aside $1.7 million to be used for the Community Development Block Grant program for 2011. Evans said the original grant included a requirement that the county match the money that was designated for the grant with an additional $1.3 million. However, in 2010 the county wasn't able to come up with the additional money.
During this year's budget planning process, Missoula County officials said they also are looking to have money designated for the Community Development Block Grant program.
"This was all part of the budget," Evans said. "We had asked the Legislature to give us the ability to have it set aside as part of the budget. The Legislature didn't give us the ability to do that, but that's something we were going to try to do this year."
Evans said the plan would be to use the entire $1.3 million in funding that was set aside for this year for the Community Development Block Grant program.
One of the priorities that is needed within the program is to ensure that the development of the area around the Missoula Valley Fairgrounds area and the Central District are addressed, Evans said.
He added that the fairgrounds is going to remain a major focus of the county in its efforts to improve and enhance the area.
"I'm just really pleased about the Fairgrounds, and the Fairgrounds has such a strong following with such a broad base of people," Evans said.
The goal, Evans said, is to have a development plan for the area around the fairgrounds that includes the expansion and development of downtown, the area around the fairgrounds, the Central District and the area north of the river.
"We're really looking to get this area really developed," Evans said. "We have some areas that are coming along, but the Fairgrounds and the Central District, it is still a very rural area. We're going to get some people that are not downtown into those areas, and we want them to stay there. ... I think that's going to be very beneficial."
Evans said he has talked with some folks in the industry who tell him that more people could be interested in living downtown, especially if the downtown area is upgraded.
"I think it could make an enormous difference," he said. "We have to do the right things to get people to stay there."
The fairgrounds project has the support of Mayor John Engen and other officials in the county, Evans said. The support is needed for the funding of the entire project.
If the support from the county, the city, the county commission and others, is not forthcoming, then the planning commission would have to come up with another approach.
"We have to be creative," Evans said. "We have to have a plan and we have to do it now, or else we're really going to be stuck with what we have."
As for downtown development, Evans said that the plan is to keep it compact and to keep the size of the core buildings down. He said they would like to see some office space downtown, perhaps a few apartment buildings, and a couple of hotels.
"We have to focus on making downtown work and not look to the south," Evans said.
He said he realizes the need to find new sources of income for the county, but said the plans for downtown and the fairgrounds are not about trying to develop the area. He said he'd rather see an area redeveloped than develop the area without planning.
"I'd rather have them come along, or they can come along if they can find people to come along with them," he said. "I'm not in favor of developing land, and making no investment in the area. ... I think we'd have more money to invest in countywide projects if we planned and took on projects like this."
If the new plan is approved, Evans said it would be the first stage of a plan to upgrade and update the fairgrounds, which he says is an asset to the community, but is in desperate need of maintenance and upkeep.
"If we do this, we're talking about five to six years of money and staff time," Evans said. "It's a huge commitment, but it's something we're going to have to do."
Evans said he's confident the community will come together to support a fair that has been a tradition for decades.
"We're all one big community," he said. "We live in a big place and we need to live in a big place. When we talk about these new things, we really need to remember