Repairing Fifth Avenue is the city’s most important project in the 2024-2025 budget

By Chris Peterson

Hungry Horse News

Repairing West Fifth Avenue is one of the most important projects for the city in the upcoming 2024-2025 budget cycle.

A large swath of the road surface was breached over the winter and part of the road has been closed to all but local traffic ever since.

City staff have decided to replace the water mains while tearing up the street, as one dates back to 1958 and the other to 1964, interim City Manager Clint Peters told the City Council last week.

Other topics discussed at a broad meeting last week included:

• The city has about $50,000 donated by the Women United Church to invest in parks. The money comes from the group’s sale of the Klothes Kloset property.

• The city is seeking to hire an individual with financial and other skills to fill some of the work that former City Manager Susan Nicosia did, as she held the position of more than one employee during her tenure. The position will be advertised once the city’s budget is finalized. The city will retain the services of an accountant to finalize this year’s budget.

• The city paid off a loan it had with Glacier Bank and will instead fund 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 near Talbott Road.

But with the bank loan, the city was paying more in interest on the 4.1% loan because of the way the bank had structured the loan.

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 is calculated is more convenient for the City.

• Councilwoman Kathy Price said she spoke with the Montana Department of Transportation about restoring the light sockets on Nucleus Avenue so holiday decorations can be turned on.

But the underground pipes would first need to be investigated and then repaired, something the city currently lacks the funds to do.

• In hiring news, the City has not received any qualified applicants for the vacant Public Works Director position.

Peters said while the pay is competitive, certain skills and experience are required working with sewer, water, streets and other city tasks while working with the public.

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

The city has seen strong candidates for the vacant police chief position and a committee of council members has been reviewing applications for the vacant city manager position.

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

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

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

The Cahills claimed the park was a public nuisance and sued the city seeking an injunction to close it.

But the two reached an agreement under which the city erected a fence and posted no-trespassing signs.

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