City seeks public input on projects

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The Red Bridge over the Flathead River at dawn.

The Columbia Falls city council wants to hear from the public on what they think the greatest needs are in the city.

Items include, but are not limited to, public housing, streets and lighting, parks, economic development and other amenities.

The cityís tax increment financing fund is projected to be $459,000 this year. Those funds are restricted however to the district itself, which includes Nucleus Avenue and the U.S. Highway 2 strip.

There has been an ongoing effort to improve the street lighting on Nucleus Avenue, for example.

Last year, council decided to save its TIF funds and didnít use any of the balance for projects. In previous years, TIF monies were used to improve the intersections on Nucleus Avenue to make them more pedestrian friendly.

Last year MontanaSky, an internet service provider, pitched bringing fiber optic Internet service to the business district. That reportedly is in the works, but is not using TIF funds.

But the city has more than just TIF funds available. It also has a small pot of grant funds, about $120,000, to help facilitate another affordable housing project.

On the parks front, the city has plans to put in a flush toilet at Riverís Edge Park as part of a broader vision for the park. Last year the city, with the help of a host of volunteer labor and grants, dug a fishing pond at the park. The pond has proven very popular and since its frozen over, is being used as an ice skating rink.

The city council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 to take comments and interested parties are encouraged to attend.

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