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Fixing Fifth Avenue top street project for city in ‘24-’25 budget

| July 10, 2024 7:05 AM


By CHRIS PETERSON

Hungry Horse News

Fixing Fifth Avenue West is one of the top projects for the city in the upcoming ‘24-’25 budget cycle.

A large swath of the street’s surface broke up over the winter and a portion of the road has been closed to all but local traffic since.

City staff have decided to replace the water mains while the street is torn up, as one dates back to 1958 and the other to ‘64, interim city manager Clint Peters told city council last week.

In a wide ranging meeting last week, several other subjects were touched on, including:

• The city has about $50,000 donated by the Church Women United to spend on parks. The monies come from when the group sold the Klothes Kloset property.

• The city is looking to hire a person with financing and other skills to fill in some of the work done by former city manager Susan Nicosia, as she did the job of more than one employee in her tenure. The position will be advertised once the city budget is completed. The city will contract out services with an accountant to finalize this year’s budget.

• The city paid off a loan it had with Glacier Bank and will instead finance the remaining  $219,885.41 of the Riverwood Special Improvement District through the city’s Cedar Creek Trust Fund. The Riverwood project brought city sewer and water to the neighborhood off of Talbott Road.

But with the bank loan, the city was paying more in interest on the 4.1% loan due to the way the bank had structured the loan itself.

By borrowing from the Cedar Creek Trust, the city is essentially borrowing money from itself, so while the interest remains the same, the way it’s calculated is more amenable to the city.

• City councilor Kathy Price said she spoke with the Montana Department of Transportation about restoring the outlets on the lights on Nucleus Avenue so the Christmas decorations could be lit up.

But it would first take an investigation into the underground conduits and then eventually fixing them. The city currently doesn’t have the funds to do that.

• In hiring news, the city hasn’t received any qualified applicants for the Public Works director opening.

Peters said while the pay is competitive, it takes a certain skill set of a background in working with sewer, water, streets and other city duties while working with the public.

“I think we’re competing with 22 towns and 56 counties,” he told council.

The city has seen good candidates for the police chief opening and a committee of councilmembers has been examining applications for the open city manager position.

On that note, Peters said his first day on the job in the interim position was fun, but also challenging and he thanked council for trusting him.

“This is just as important as being chief of police,” he said.

• The city also completed a fence at the Kreck Riverside Park as part of a settlement with the Cahill family that owns the land surrounding the park near the Red Bridge. 

The Cahills claimed the park was a public nuisance and sued the city, seeking a court order to see it closed. 

But the two came to an agreement whereby the city put up a fence and put up no trespassing signs. 

The park still affords the public legal access to the river.