Archive for September 21st, 2008

by jhwygirl

Tomorrow night’s city council will be taking into consideration the approval of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the old Fox Theater site located on Front Street – down there by the Orange Street Bridge.

You know – the site that was being contemplated as the location for the still-not-quite-dead-yet $60,000,000 Performing Arts Center? The one that I first heard about when the city tried to help along a proposal in the 2007 legislature that would have allowed school districts to issue bonds – i.e., tax – for structures that they don’t own?

Now, maybe 60 days is enough time. I’m truly putting the question out there.

It’s not a typical city lot – or even two. This property has been appraised for nearly $2 million.

Now, aside from the minor (?) problem that the actual proposal being considered isn’t available for people like you and I to view (there seems to be a glitch with the links within the minutes of the most recent Administration and Finance Committee meeting), the pre-committee meeting RFP will base its selection based on criteria like:

–The degree to which the proposed development meets an identified market needs of the community and downtown area. Proposal should present credible evidence supporting the need or market for the proposed uses. It is understood that a complete market analysis may not be possible in the timeframe of this RFP.

–Clear demonstration of the respondent’s ability to obtain financing for the project. The proposal should present verifiable evidence of the developer’s history of completing successful projects of similar cost and scope. (This part goes on to include things like a business plan, evidence of financing, and a description of the extent the project depends on federal, state and local grants, along with donations.)

It goes on, but perhaps you get the gist?

I guess I’m wondering what the hurry is? The PAC is still out there floating around, despite what some may say, and the 18 month extension that they were granted last November has yet to expire.

Any respondent – and this RFP is going out in the Seattle and Spokane newspapers, along with The Missoulian (and, according to Chris Behan, should get picked up on nationwide RFP lists) – has to consider the following, all in 60 days:

1. Missoula Riverfront Triangle Redevelopment Urban Renewal Plan
2. Missoula Riverfront Triangle Redevelopment Master Plan
3. The Riverfront Triangle Special Zoning District
4. Initial concepts of the Riverfront Triangle for the Missoula Greater Downtown Master Plan
5. Various maps and air photos of the project site showing location, infrastructure, parcel size,
ownership, etc.
6. Utility and soils information
7. Montana Laws governing transfer of public property for private use are attached to RFP.

Is it reasonable to think that decent legitimate proposals for a $2 million riverfront parcel would only take 2 months? Do we want a proposal that goes out cold on an RFP and comes back in 60 days? What kind of proposal are we going to get back?

Not that I’m a conspiracy theorist or anything, but could it be that there’s someone out there waiting in the wings with something?

Geez, come on. It’s September 2008. The markets are in shambles – and no one, realistically, is going to start anything on that site until 2010, at the earliest. At the earliest.

Give the city a fighting chance for the best possible proposal that we could get for that site. Put it out there for 6 months, at least.

by jhwygirl

Did the largest EPA cleanup site in the nation just, like, quadruple in size during spring runoff this year?

That’s the question Vince Devlin of The Missoulian basically lays out there today in an seemingly innocuously titled piece, Thomson Falls Residents Concerned About the Flow of the Milltown Sediment.

Rumblings have certainly been bandied about in the months since spring runoff…but some of the stuff in Devlin’s piece are shocking:

Sonju, the property owner who is also trained as a geologist, says he was working near the dam and watched oddly colored water escape over the top during spring runoff.

“It was this dark, pea-green color,” he says. “If that means heavy metals were coming over the dam, it could affect Noxon Reservoir, Cabinet Gorge Reservoir and even Lake Pend Oreille” in north Idaho.


They may have their work cut out for them. Said Sonju, “How many more times worse is it than their worst-case scenario said it would be?”

“I don’t want to insult anyone,” he went on, “but common sense tells you they’ve already been proven wrong.”

Runoff was definitely the ‘topic du jour’ in the months leading up to this years high water. Weekly reports were put out the EPA noting that they had monitored the situation and there hadn’t been anything out of the ordinary. Recently there were a flood of calls to the Missoula County Health Department with people concerned about whether the Clark Fork was safe enough for their dogs to swim in or safe enough for crop irrigation.

I know what I think. There are plenty of other choices – the Bitterroot, the Lolo, The East Fork of Lolo, etc.

But hey – hopefully Devlin’s story is a call for getting to the truth of the matter. How hard can it be to do some immediate testing? We’ve got health departments, labs – hell, we got a big ole’ university sitting over there on the river. Isn’t there some gumption with some geology or biology or hydrology student to get out there and do some water and sediment samples?

Sounds like John Sonju down there in Thompson Falls might have a couple samples he could provide.

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