Former lumberyard could become housing

Charlie Denison

Ian Berger, left, and his brother, Jake, climb onto a machine designed for snow removal during Lewistown Public Library Summer Reading Program’s “snow day” event, complementing this year’s “Building a Better World” theme City Commissioner approved the library’s budget for 2017-18 Monday.
Photo by Charlie Denison

During Monday’s meeting, City Commissioners gave the go-ahead on a feasibility study to develop housing on the Berg Lumber site, after hearing an update from members of the Recharge Our Community group, Snowy Mountain Development Corporation representatives and Greg Benjamin of Stahly Engineering.

“This is a communication step to make sure what we’ve done and the next step we are taking have concurrence with the Commission and to make sure we are on the right track,” Benjamin said. “When we started this project, the underlying goal was to try and fill a gap of workforce housing in a price point of about $150,000 to $250,000. We worked through about four different iterations that really homed in on the criteria of the group. From there, we got down to a preferred option, and that’s what we brought with us tonight.”

The “preferred” option has three phases. The first phase starts on the South end near Cheadle Street.

“It’s a complete mix of commercial, small residential and large residential,” Benjamin said. “This first phase incorporates about 35 total lots.

“The second phase of the project shoots up the west side, all the way up to the north end of the property, working in some of the smaller residential lots,” Benjamin said. “The third phase of the project would incorporate some of the final small residential lots and the larger residential lots that actually look over onto the creek area and mountain views…it also incorporates a park.”

The development cost for the project, Benjamin said is, $1.5-1.6 million for phase one, about the same for phase two and approximately $750,000 for phase three.

The project came to the commissioners because the land belongs the City.

“This property used to be a lumber mill site and was given to the City,” Lewistown City Manager Holly Phelps said. “Some cleanup was required, and it has now been cleared to residential standards. Now it’s able to be put to use for a project such as this one.”

The City is partnering with Snowy Mountain on this project, Phelps said, and even took out a loan with Snowy Mountain for $100,000 in hopes to put some development plans together.

Snowy Mountain Development Executive Director Kathie Bailey said she is very pleased with how this project has gone, and much credit belongs to the ROC Committee.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to the ROC Committee,” she said. “It really was a citizen-initiated committee, and, really, they’ve had no authority; they are just interested in the needs of the community and wanted to address that need.”

City Commissioner Rick Poss expressed his support for the project and is encouraged with its direction.

“I appreciate the work you’ve done with this,” he said. “I think it will be a really good use of this property. I’d like to see you make it happen.”


City Commission approves library board

The Lewistown City Commission expressed support for the Lewistown Public Library Monday, approving their budget for the new fiscal year.

 Library Director KellyAnne Terry was pleased with their response following her presentation, which encompassed facts, figures and great detail on what had been a challenging 2016-2017 year for the LPL’s staff, as Terry was seriously ill in the spring and second-in-command Dani Buehler was on maternity leave.

Nevertheless, the library continued to see a rise in patrons and circulation.

According to information gathered by Terry, the library is constantly busy, serving a total of 4,732 patrons. For the 2016-17 fiscal year, library circulation was approximately 66,291, including school visits (1,285 elementary students, 150 high school students) and story time visits (1,088 children ages five and under). Terry said around 5,000 children participated in story time during the year.

The library has also grown in popularly thanks to its computer usage. According to Terry, 572 people use the main computers and 208 use the youth area computers every month. Their website is also picking up more users, as the site gets more than 1,500 visits every month.

Interlibrary loan and Montana Library 2 Go are also well utilized, Terry added.

“Montana Library 2 Go (e-books and audio books) has a circulation of 9,760, which is a huge amount,” she said.

Funding for the library is beneficial for the entire community, Terry said. Be it the Family Summer Reading Program, culture nights or special events, such as the Montana Repertory Theatre, the public library is an attraction for all ages and serves the public as well as many community organizations.

The library also focuses on education.

“We have 17 different groups related to the school systems in our community that come in and use our library every month,” Terry said.

Some resources the library has available, however, are in jeopardy, Terry said.

“The Montana Memory Project is still going strong, but there is a great threat to it. The state library is cutting its budget 25 percent and has to cut 14 people from their staff.  We won’t know how we are affected for sure until Aug. 15.”

Losing the Montana Memory Project would be particularly hard for the LPL, as Lewistown has utilized the program more than any library in the state.

“We have more than 18,000 photos and more than 40,000 documents,” Terry said. “Our collection is very much used.”

Terry asked the City to continue to fund $207,048 plus an additional $5,000 for the depreciation reserve. Commissioners were happy to oblige the request.

“You’ve done a fabulous job,” Chairman Dave Byerly said. “Thank you.”


Other Business

• The final design concept for the Creekside Marketplace and Pavilion was approved by the Commissioners. There will be more information on the presentation in Wednesday’s News-Argus.

• Commissioners approved a proposal for angle parking on 3rd Avenue N. See Wednesday’s News-Argus for more details on this request.

• Fergus County Council on Aging Executive Director Staci Auck delivered a presentation to the commissioners Monday, telling them the facility is operating well. She expects the COA to renew its lease of the building on Watson (owned by the City), as she has enjoyed the partnership and feels the facility works well for them. Business is good, she said, and she appreciates the staff, the community support and the many volunteers. She also mentioned the new chef continues to get showered with compliments. Auck invited those in attendance to come in for a meal sometime.

• On Monday, the City Commission approved the revocation of Dishone Satellite’s business license in Lewistown after receiving multiple reports about employees of the organization “misrepresenting themselves and who they work for, as well as, behaving suspiciously.”

“I was contacted by the police department and informed of the complaints. In the interest of protecting the public health, safety and welfare, I authorized the officer to suspend the business license immediately,” Phelps wrote in a letter to Dishone Satellite last week. “I know that multiple attempts have been made to contact the supervisors of these individuals.”




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