Friday, April 19, 2024

Vote 'yes' to help sustain Whitefish's traditions and values

by Alex Maetzold
| September 20, 2023 12:00 AM

As the owners of The Buffalo Cafe, a downtown Whitefish business since 1983, we would like to encourage you to vote “yes" on the November ballot to reallocate 10% of the resort tax dollars for community housing projects.

These future programs and projects can be developed to help build new workforce housing, rental assistance, transportation, or other options that fall under the umbrella of “community housing.” Potential programs could be proposed by groups such as Whitefish Housing Authority, Housing Whitefish, Chamber of Commerce ... or you! This means a potential project’s scope and vision is up to us. It also means that City Council will play a large role in what types of projects may get approved.

Voting “yes” has the potential to stop the displacement of longtime residents who are being pushed out of Whitefish by the skyrocketing cost of housing. According to the Whitefish Growth Plan, since 2020 home prices have jumped from roughly $400,000 to nearly $1.3 million and a single unit rental price went from $400/month to $2,000.

If we do not act we will continue to see an exodus of our community members who must look elsewhere to live, work, play, and raise the next generations. Our town remains vibrant when community employees remain community residents.

At the Buffalo Cafe, we often get asked the question “What’s your favorite part about Whitefish?” Our answer is always the same — it’s the people. This is a community that is welcoming, helpful, hardworking and self-sustaining. It’s a community that supports our youth. It’s a community that raised thousands of dollars overnight when Covid hit to provide the North Valley Food Bank with supplies and families with basic needs.

It’s a community that created the Farmers Market, the Whitefish Community Library, O’Shaughnessy Center, The Wave and the Winter Carnival. It’s the community that raises millions during the Whitefish Community Foundation’s Great Fish Challenge, maintains the Whitefish Trails and Cleans the Fish. Voting for this housing allocation is a step in the right direction to keep this community intact.

We can manage a few new buildings and a few more people. But we cannot manage to lose the community spirit that has brought us so far along in creating this unique town out here in the mountains. In the end, voting “yes” will help sustain our traditions and our values to pass along to the next Whitefish generation.

The Maetzold family owns the Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish.