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City Council briefs from Sept 6 meeting

| September 21, 2022 1:00 AM

The Whitefish City Council met on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and took up several issues ongoing in the city.

Grouse Mountain parking

Whitefish City Council voted unanimously to reject the construction bid for the Grouse Mountain parking lot project per staff's recommendation. The project involves reconstruction of approximately 12,600 square feet of parking lot for the Grouse Mountain City Park rest area located along Highway 93.

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

The staff’s best guess is that busy contractor schedules along with inflated costs for labor, fuel and materials contributed to the underestimated cost to complete the project.

City to apply for grants

The council approved Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman’s request to consider submitting applications for two grants. According to the staff report, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law 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 Department's National Roadway Safety Strategy and a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on the nation's roadways.

“What we’re proposing for this project is to develop… a Comprehensive Safety Action Plan and once we develop that plan, we will then be able to move forward with future Safe Streets for All construction projects,” said Workman.

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

“This program seeks to promote the safety and efficiency of the national rail network by providing funding for railroad crossing improvement projects that focus on improving safety and mobility,” the report notes.

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

“Both of the grants would have a 20% match so should grant funds be awarded we would have to budget… for the city's match and BN has preliminarily offered to cover the bulk of that moving forward, so I think both of these are excellent opportunities for the city,” said Workman.

The council gave the go-ahead for both of the grants.

City staff changes

It was also announced that Laine Godspodarek, the new Whitefish Finance Director was being welcomed to the position and city staff, but the city also said that Housing Coordinator Marissa Getts has resigned. The city will post the position soon and until a replacement can be hired, Whitefish Long Term Planner, Alan Tiefenbach, is filling in.

Library recognition

Sarah Ericson, Chair of the Whitefish Community Library Board, came to the council meeting to “boast about the library director, Joey Kositzky and the entire staff.”

“The Whitefish Library has been awarded the Excellent Library Service Award for the 10th year in a row,” 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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