Karen Sippy and Bert Lindler, members of the Grant Creek Trail Association

Karen Sippy and Bert Lindler, members of the Grant Creek Trail Association, walk through a portion of land where a bicycle and pedestrian route would be built in Grant Creek.

TOM BAUER/Missoulian

Dodie Moquin is a cyclist who is one big step closer to having a safer bike trip down Grant Creek Road.

On Monday, the Missoula City Council unanimously voted to spend $54,000 of open space money to acquire 27 acres that will complete the trail from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to, eventually, Snowbowl Road.

The land will be placed in a conservation easement held by the Five Valleys Land Trust.

Once while biking down Grant Creek Road, Moquin had a deer pop in front of her. She told the council she would have been hit by a car and probably died had she followed her impulse to swerve.

“It’s kind of like taking your life into your own hands,” Moquin said.

“So I am really, really beyond excited for this to be happening.”

The Board of County Commissioners also must approve the expenditure toward the 3.3-mile trail. The board was slated to attend Monday’s public hearing, but Mayor John Engen, who received much praise at the meeting for helping to negotiate the final piece of the complicated deal, said two of the commissioners were sick; none attended the meeting, so they will hold a separate hearing.

At the meeting, citizen activist Ross Best also noted a proposal to light the Madison Street pedestrian bridge will go before the Conservation Committee at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Best asked the council to slow down the process and give the public ample time to weigh in with financial, environmental and cultural considerations.

“It’s time for citizens who object to the proposal to start speaking up,” Best said.

In a unanimous vote, the council also gave the Hotel Fox group an extension through Jan. 10, 2014, on the reservation it has on the Riverfront Triangle. The group wants to build a hotel and conference center on the property at Orange and Front streets, and it requested the extension to explore a project that’s at least 50 percent larger than its original footprint.

Councilors Adam Hertz, Marilyn Marler and Mike O’Herron were absent from the meeting.

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at @KeilaSzpaller, 523-5262, keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or on MissoulaRedTape.com.

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