The University of Montana will hold two public forums this month as it looks to place Missoula College at one of two building sites, both located near the main campus and existing student services.

UM President Royce Engstrom said the university will look at building the new $32 million college on either the South Campus, or at an alternative site located on East Broadway.

Both sites meet essential criteria sought by the university, including room to grow and proximity to the mountain campus and student services such as transportation, classes, and health and child care.

“We have examined two sites in detail during recent months – the South Campus and the East Broadway location,” Engstrom said. “Both meet the above criteria, and both are suitable from an architect’s perspective.”

University officials will use the public forums, both planned for next week, as scoping sessions for the two sites under consideration. The university is seeking feedback from the community on the two locations.

After six years of denying the project funding, the 2013 Legislature allocated $29 million for it. UM must raise an additional $3 million.

“Our two-year students represent a critical asset for Missoula and for Montana,” Engstrom said. “With a new state-of the-art facility, Missoula College will be able to implement more fully its mission to become a community-focused institution serving the educational and workforce needs of this region.”

Two weeks ago, Mayor John Engen asked UM to consider a third possible site located downtown near Orange and Front streets. A hotel and conference center is being considered for that location, and Engen suggested the college could also blend into the project.

Peggy Kuhr, UM vice president of integrated communications, said the university considered the option and went so far as to tour the site, but opted to stick with either the South Campus or East Broadway when placing the college.

“It’s an intriguing proposal the mayor made, and Engstrom carefully considered it,” Kuhr said. “They spoke and took a serious look at it, but they concluded the two sites that had been under active consideration for the college will best meet the education needs that we have.”

Engstrom said the South Campus Master Plan – approved by the Board of Regents six years ago – will help guide future growth as the university expands south. Engstrom said the plan remains viable and will continue to guide long-term needs.

The new site on East Broadway was reviewed by StudioFORMA for architectural soundness. The feasibility study found no significant barriers to placing Missoula College at that location.

“We’d like to invite the community – including students, faculty and staff at Missoula College – to let us know their thoughts about these locations,” Engstrom said.

The first forum takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Holiday Inn Downtown, 200 S. Pattee St. The second forum will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at Missoula College, 909  South Ave. W.

William Marcus, director of the UM Broadcast Media Center, will moderate both forums.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at

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Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. The Missoula way. Good Lord. Shut up and build the thing.

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