Officials and local residents in Missoula County, Montana 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.”
On July 23, Missoula County residents gathered for an introductory presentation that featured a broad overview of strategies for parking management in Midtown. The next day, instructors from Charlier Associates and Smart Growth America met with key stakeholders to discuss how the County could plan for future expansion projects, while taking into account its current parking assets. To help assess the parking situation in Missoula, Smart Growth America’s Roger Millar asked questions like: “How is it [parking] used? Is it used for customers? How often is it used? When is it full? When is it empty?”
In November 2012, Missoula County was one of 22 communities selected by Smart Growth America to participate in the free technical assistance program. Stretching from Maine to Washington State, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers, and rural towns alike.
The technical workshop program is made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities, which seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Three other nonprofit organizations—Forterra, Global Green USA and Project for Public Spaces—also received competitively awarded grants this year to help get the kinds of development they want.