Minutes of the municipal council of September 6

Whitefish Town Council met on Tuesday, September 6 and addressed several ongoing issues in the town.

Grouse Mountain parking lot

Whitefish City Council voted unanimously to reject the bid to build the Grouse Mountain parking lot project, as recommended by staff. The project involves the reconstruction of approximately 12,600 square feet of parking for the Grouse Mountain City Park Rest Area located along Highway 93.

Work proposed for the project includes demolition, construction of a new parking lot, grading and other miscellaneous improvements. The city announced bids for the project and a total of three were received. Bids ranged from 33% to 61% higher than the engineer’s estimate of approximately $142,000, with the lowest bid coming from Cutting Edge Excavation for almost $190,000.

Staff’s best estimate is that busy contractor schedules along with inflated labor, fuel, and material costs contributed to the underestimated cost of completing the project.

The City is applying for grants

The council approved a request from Whitefish’s Director of Public Works, Craig Workman, to consider submitting applications for two grants. According to the staff report, the bipartisan Infrastructure Act established the new Safe Streets for All discretionary program that will provide up to $6 billion in grants over the next five years.

The report says the program supports the ministry’s national road safety strategy and a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on the country’s roads.

“What we are proposing for this project is to develop… a comprehensive safety action plan and once we have developed this plan we can then move forward with future projects to build safe streets for all” , Workman said.

Additionally, the Federal Railroad Administration announced the creation of the Railroad Crossing Elimination Program. Workman said BNSF will complete the application on behalf of the city, so there is no financial commitment for the city regarding this application.

“This program aims to promote the safety and efficiency of the national rail network by funding level crossing improvement projects focused on improving safety and mobility,” the report notes.

Workman said BNSF is interested in working with the city to improve safety at existing crossings in Whitefish. Some of the specific projects that would be considered include a possible level crossing east of the existing overpass and crossing improvements at State Park Road and Birch Point Drive.

“Both grants would have a 20% match, so if grant funds were given, we had to budget…for city correspondence and BN originally offered to cover most of that advancement, so I think those two are great opportunities for the city,” Workman said.

The council gave the go-ahead for both grants.

City staff change

It was also announced that Laine Godspodarek, Whitefish’s new chief financial officer, was welcomed to the position and to city staff, but the city also said housing coordinator Marissa Getts has stepped down. The city will post the position soon and until a replacement can be hired, Whitefish’s long-range planner Alan Tiefenbach is replacing him.

Library Recognition

Sarah Ericson, chair of the Whitefish Community Library Board, came to the board meeting to “brag about the library manager, Joey Kositzky and all the staff.”

“The Whitefish Library has received the Excellent Library Service Award for the 10th consecutive year,” said Ericson. “The Whitefish Library has won this award every year since its inception.

She described the set of standards used to determine a library’s qualifications for the award, which is presented by the Montana State Library.

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