City leaders optimistic about 2019

By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter
Monday, December 31, 2018

New businesses on Main Street in Lewistown in 2018 have helped fuel optimism about the year ahead.  

Photo by Charlie Denison

The water might taste like chlorine in a lot of places around town, but there are plenty of reasons for City Commission Chairperson Patty Turk, City Planner Cathy Barta and City Manager Holly Phelps to feel encouraged about the City’s direction heading into the New Year.

“For one, I’m excited about Creekside Marketplace and Pavilion,” Turk said. “I think its location [on East Main Street] is prime and it offers a lot of opportunity for extracurricular events. I hope the farmers market moves down there.”

As far as priorities for the New Year are concerned, Turk said the City plans to readdress some ongoing items, such as working with the public on passing a new sign ordinance, working with the Lewistown Soccer Club on getting phase one underway for their proposed soccer park and working with developers looking at bringing some businesses to H Street.

“I’m particularly excited about the H Street developments,” Turk said.

The potential H Street businesses are just one example of what Turk considers a small boom here in Lewistown.

“In just the last few months we’ve seen a Burger King, a bakery and two women’s boutiques open,” she said. “The way things have been snowballing…I don’t expect it to slow down. It looks like people believe this is the place to be.”

Turk, a City commissioner on and off for the past 15 years, said she’s never felt so good about the direction of Lewistown.

“I’m very encouraged with Lewistown right now,” she said. “There have been some losses, but there has been a lot of growth. So many places are expanding. Our town is growing.”

This optimism includes the City budget, Turk added.

“We had a lot of extra meetings this last budget year, and it was a little exhausting at times, but we did a good job putting it together,” she said. “ I think the budget is in fine shape.”

For the most part, Turk said much of the City’s goals for 2019 are status quo, as they will focus on infrastructure needs, try to keep taxes down and hire a public works director.

First and foremost, however, they will be working on finding another method to remove coliform bacteria from City water, as chlorination is posing problems than solutions.

“Chlorination is definitely the biggest issue,” Turk said. “We are continuing to research the cost and effectiveness of the alternatives.”

 

City Planner Cathy Barta

Barta said her main priority for the beginning of 2019 is to see a sign ordinance implemented, but she wants to make sure the voices of the public are heard and any issues are brought to the table.

“We have one more meeting we are working to schedule,” Barta said. “Hopefully we will have [the ordinance] before the City Commission sometime in February.”

Barta also wants to have discussions on annexation as the process moves forward for those in the Castle Ridge area.

“We are hoping to invite individuals that were part of the Castle Ridge Annexation to figure out the zoning for that area,” she said. “We want to begin discussions to see what their thoughts are and what they believe is best for that area. We hope to get that zoning finalized.”

This will be Barta’s first full year as City Planner, and she’s excited for all the challenges and opportunities the year will bring.

“I hope to support the community the best I can with all the interest and development that is planned for 2019,” she said.

 

City Manager Holly Phelps

Phelps said she is also excited about what’s to come for 2019.

“We are seeing a lot of growth downtown,” she said. “There is a resurgence of businesses downtown, new businesses, people looking at investing in downtown.”

Like Turk, Phelps said she’s looking forward to seeing Creekside Marketplace and Pavilion come to life.

“The construction should be finished on that around late summer,” Phelps said. “We are still waiting on some grants, but we are in good shape.”

Phelps is also thrilled with the H Street development soon to come, as a potential grocery store has been discussed with project engineers.

Other items on the agenda for the New Year include addressing the workforce shortage, affordable housing and moving forward with redevelopment projects such as Berg Lumber and the old dump site on Marcella Avenue.

“But water is the main thing,” Phelps said. “We need to find an alternative to chlorination.”

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