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University of Montana President Royce Engstrom speaks at the start of a public forum in September 2013 on where to locate Missoula College.

TOM BAUER/Missoulian

Before the design process advances on a new Missoula College building and the East Broadway location gets the final nod, consultants must work to complete their environmental analysis on the proposed site.

The University of Montana on Thursday evening will host a public scoping session to discuss the process moving forward. The university last month announced East Broadway as the chosen location, and a series of final steps must be taken before ground is broken for construction.

“They’ve selected that site over the South Campus, and we have to go through the environmental analysis and look at it,” said Kevin Krebsbach, associate director of planning and construction at UM. “If anything comes up in the analysis, we’ll look at that. The scoping session is all about that.”

As envisioned, the new Missoula College building will stand four stories tall with a basement and roughly 730 parking spaces.

The 7-acre site, owned by the university, sits between the Clark Fork River and East Broadway. Studies on traffic and parking, riparian resource management, floodplain designation and storm water management are currently underway.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the study Thursday night. Krebsbach said university planners will describe the proposed project during the session.

“Once there’s a finding of no significant impact, if it comes out that way, we’ll proceed with the project design,” said Krebsbach. “They’ll get all the concerns from the public on what we should be looking at. They’ll come back after the assessment, and the president (Royce Engstrom) will have to make the finding whether it’s a go or no go.”

The project won $32 million in funding from the state Legislature earlier this year. After intense discussion on location, which included the threat of a lawsuit from one community group, East Broadway was named the preferred site.

Made in early October, that announcement cleared the way for the environmental assessment, headed by Stephanie Lauer with JBR Environmental Consultants in Missoula.

The Bozeman architectural firm, StudioFORMA, will be charged with designing the building. The firm completed a feasibility study on the site this summer and found no significant limitations to building the project.

Engstrom said the location will give architects more flexibility in design. He believes the location, visible from Interstate 90, will promote the increasing role two-year education plays in the community.

The scoping session will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Holiday Inn Downtown, 200 S. Pattee St. The university will solicit comments regarding the project until Dec. 2.

Comments can be submitted at the open house, by email to slauer@jbrenv.com or by mail to Stephanie Lauer, Project Manager, JBR Environmental Consultants, P.O. Box 7875, Missoula, MT 59807.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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