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The Missoula City Council helped the Montana Sustainable Building Center inch toward a $1.4 million grant - but not before much grilling during the Monday night meeting.

Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard and Councilman Dick Haines questioned a center representative on the deal to be sure the city wouldn't be left holding the bag if the nonprofit disbanded down the road.

"We don't want the city to be held responsible," Haines said.

The center is applying for an Economic Development Administration grant to help purchase property at 1515 Wyoming St. The plan is to foster a center of "green" businesses, a growing market. Home Resource, which sells reused building materials, is the primary tenant.

"It's a good thing for us, best I can tell," said Councilman Bob Jaffe.

In the end, 11 members of the council, including Haines and Hellegaard, said yes to letting the city apply for funds. Councilwoman Renee Mitchell voted no.

The EDA requests that a government entity join applicants in their bids for dollars so the EDA has a point of contact if the nonprofit falls apart. Monday's vote gave the mayor authority to apply for the money and sign an agreement with the center.

"The grant hasn't been fully approved," said project representative Mike Bouchee.

During a Committee of the Whole meeting that followed, Councilwoman Pam Walzer reminded people the city was picking up leaves this spring. (See related story.)

"My leaves disappeared, so I really appreciate the effort," Walzer said.

Also, Mayor John Engen said the city is taking applications for a deputy city attorney.

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at 523-5262, or on


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