Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of Poplar, MT host workshop on planning for sustainable growth

oil refinery2 The site of an oil refinery in Poplar, MT. Photo by Elizabeth Schilling

Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on May 6 and 7, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop sought to provide tribal leaders with the necessary strategies to achieve long-term sustainable growth within the reservation, especially given the development pressures created by the Bakken oil boom.

“The Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes Tribal Executive Board is excited about the opportunity for the tribal staff and community leaders to gain more knowledge and expertise in the area of community planning,” said Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board Chairman A.T. Stafne.

Dangerous by Design 2014: Montana

The National Complete Streets Coalition reports on the national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities, offering county-, metro-, and state-level data on traffic fatalities and an interactive map of each loss in the decade 2003 through 2012. This resource specific profiles the state of Montana.

Mayor John Engen on affordable housing in Missoula, MT

Missoula, Montana passed an affordable housing ordinance to build a community where residents of all income levels can live, work, and play together. Mayor John Engen talks about the importance of building affordable housing for any community. See more video interviews with Local Leaders here >>

Workshop addresses parking supply and demand issues in Missoula County, MT

Officials and local residents in Missoula County met with representatives from Smart Growth America on July 23 and 24, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop provided the City and County of Missoula with the tools to implement parking management strategies in Midtown, a section of the city designated as an Urban Redevelopment Area.

“The Missoula Fairgrounds and Midtown Missoula are really excited to start exploring alternative solutions to conventional parking problems,” said Steve Earle, the Missoula Fairgrounds Director. “This part of Missoula holds 160 acres of citizen-owned resources but has not received the attention it deserves for the past twenty years. This workshop will help us plan for the best possible access to this property.”

Partnership in the News: Helena, MT among 2012 recipients of EPA grant

Helena, MT has been selected to receive an EPA Greening America’s Capitals grant in an effort to address the future of Last Chance Gulch, Helena’s mainstreet.

“It’s just been difficult to figure out how to make the most important historic mile in the state of Montana (a) sustainable, (b) multi-use and multi-purpose, (c) accessible to our business community and merchants here in town, and (d) how to revitalize it so that it might include any number of other uses including residences along the gulch, or uses for non-motorized people,” said Helena Mayor Jim Smith.

The city hopes to solve these issues with the grant.

Frankfort, Ky.; Des Moines, Iowa; Baton Rouge, La.; and Indianapolis, In. also received grants for similar efforts.

Smart growth stories: Mayor Tom Hanel on making best use of public resources in Billings, MT

Every city has limits, even in the big state of Montana. And just as roads have their cutoff points, city budgets only stretch so far, too.

Mayor Tom Hanel of Billings, Montana, knows this well. As a long-time city employee, Hanel has plenty of experience crunching the numbers behind the scenes. Hanel realized that if Billings was to keep its books in order, the city would needs to make well-planned and well-informed decisions about development.

Kim Billimoria on preserving business and beauty in Yellowstone

The greater Yellowstone region stretches across Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, encompassing dozens of counties and mile after mile of unparalleled natural resources. Its stunning beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year and is the primary basis for economic development in the area. As a result, residents and tourists alike see significant value in preserving the environment and ensuring its existence for future generations.

That concern for the Yellowstone ecosystem as a vital community asset is the underlying principle of the Yellowstone Business Partnership.

“The Yellowstone business partnership is a non-profit organization that works at an eco-system level,” says the organization’s communications specialist Kim Billimoria. “It was founded by a group of business people that recognized that if we’re going to preserve the greater Yellowstone ecosystem – which is one of the largest last intact ecosystems in the entire world – we have to harness the power of business.”

Smart Growth Stories: Mayor John Engen on Missoula, Montana's sense of place

Since taking office in 2005 as the 50th Mayor of Missoula, Montana, John Engen has emphasized the importance of economic development, community building and affordable housing. His goal?

“When I’m done, I hope folks will say, ‘We worked to keep Missoula a place,'” Engen says.

For Missoula to achieve economic success and to remain a close-knit community in Montana’s picturesque mountains, Engen believes his administration should do everything it can to ensure the city is appealing to families and investors. That means having a thriving ‘Main Street’ downtown; amenities catering to young professionals and college students; access to transportation and housing options; and protection of natural land assets.

“We don’t have much going for us if we don’t have a decent place to live,” Engen says, noting that over the past several decades, Missoula has been forced to transition from a town with a resource-intensive economy (chiefly timber) to a services economy with ties to recent graduates and more experienced professionals who want to live in a small, rural town but still travel/telecommute to work in larger cities.

As mayor, Engen recognized early on that for this new type of economy to be successful, Missoula would have to seek community feedback about anticipated growth and plan for the future in a more coordinated way. He also understood that economic development is not separate from neighborhood development; investments in how a town looks and in how residents move around and interact with each other are intimately related to a town’s financial wellbeing.

When more people have quality jobs and access to affordable housing, fewer people have to make the kinds of difficult choices – such as a decision between food and shelter – that hold back community growth, Engen says. If the quality of life for most Missoulians increases as a result of efforts to reinvigorate downtown business corridors and to take advantage of the city’s unique assets, more Missoulians will be able to engage in community projects, schools, family programs, and local politics.

Montana Rail Link cuts costs and emissions with help from the EPA

The following is a guest post from Ann W. Cundy, Senior Transportation Planner, Missoula Office of Planning and Grants

Transportation planners, public health professionals and a private railroad in Missoula, Montana are working together to reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality.

The project is possible thanks to a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, which works with public agencies, private companies and community groups to reduce diesel emissions and promotes clean air strategies. The City of Missoula recognized the Clean Diesel Campaign as an opportunity to improve its air quality, protect public health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money for Montana Rail Link – truly meeting a triple bottom line.

Open Streets in Missoula, Montana

The following guest post was written by Alexandria Stokman at Sunday Streets Missoula.

After a summer of bands and beer, Missoula, Montana took a break from the traditional festival atmosphere to host an active, healthy, sustainable transportation event that celebrates Missoula as a bikeable and walkable community.

The City of Missoula Parks & Recreation, the Downtown Business Improvement District and Missoula In Motion worked together to create Sunday Streets Missoula. The most recent event took place on September 11, 2011, transforming Missoula’s main street into a car-free environment. Combined with riverfront trails, the space made a two mile pedestrian loop. It may seem to be a short distance compared to the 6.5 miles from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park during New York City’s Summer Streets, but quite an accomplishment for Big Sky Country, where pick-ups and SUVs fill our valley with countless vehicle miles traveled and road dust.