A Northside resident on Monday told the Missoula City Council he had concerns about a satellite program the Poverello Center plans to open on the south side of the neighborhood bicycle-pedestrian bridge.
Eric Taylor said he supports a conversation about how the community should approach mental health conditions, poverty, homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction. But he also said those issues sometimes have nothing to do with each other.
"Quite frankly, I find it disingenuous when people lump all those issues together," Taylor said.
The Pov last week announced plans to open a drop-in center at 506 Toole Ave. Slated to open in August, the day center would be open to people under the influence of alcohol, and director Ellie Hill has said she hopes it offers one solution to a concern about transients downtown.
The plan has raised concerns in the neighborhood, but Taylor said when he asked questions, people circled the wagons. He was told he should trust the leaders of the Pov because they're the professionals.
"I hope they are," Taylor said.
The conversation continues later this week. Mayor John Engen announced a meeting 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Stensrud Building, 314 N. First St. W., where staff from the Poverello will hear concerns from the neighborhood about the planned drop-in center.
At Monday's regular council meeting, Engen's request for comments on the draft 2009 budget and capital improvement plan emptied the room.
Before that, though, members of the public spoke out in favor of a Town Pump rezone that will allow the gas station on Grant Creek Road just north of Interstate 90 to expand. Council members unanimously approved the request.
Town Pump general manager Mike Kenneally again said the company has no plans to build a casino there because neighbors have said they don't want one. Ward 2 Councilman John Hendrickson said the rezone does not allow gambling, either.
Kenneally said the plan is to update the gas station with four more gas pumps designed for passenger vehicles and modernize the convenience store.
"At the time the location was built, it was state-of-the-art," Kenneally said.
While citizens expressed support for the rezone, they also told city officials to conduct a traffic study of the area because of jams at the interchange there.
Brian Walter, with the Grant Creek Neighborhood Council Leadership Team, said a dispute about who pays for a study has been going on for years but to no avail.
"All this is still unresolved," Walter said.
He asked for a traffic study, as did resident Mike Frellick, also with the neighborhood leadership team.
"Town Pump is and will be a good neighbor," Frellick said.
But he said he doesn't understand why a traffic study hasn't already been completed.
Council members agreed they wanted an improved intersection. However, they didn't ask Town Pump to pay for a study of the entire area when its expansion was limited. City attorney Jim Nugent said it wouldn't be reasonable to require them to do so, too.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Stacy Rye asked whether the city had proposed affordable solutions that had been turned down by the Montana Department of Transportation. Chief administrative officer Bruce Bender said the state and the city disagreed over appropriate lane widths near the intersection.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard said she didn't want to see a repeat of the redesign at Mullan Road and Reserve Street where a bike lane was compromised.
Also at the meeting, the council unanimously approved an annexation contract for a property at 3900 Mullan Road known as Halling Farms Addition. A city official said the property will be developed with residential and commercial uses.
In other business:
- Ward 1 Councilman Dave Strohmaier said he wanted to remind people celebrating July 4 that fireworks are prohibited in city limits. "So take your explosives elsewhere."
- Ward 3 Councilman Bob Jaffe said the Missoula Outdoor Cinema opens its season this weekend. "National Lampoon's Vacation" shows at sunset, 9:34 p.m., on Saturday, June 28, outside Whittier School.
- Ward 3's Rye reminded people to cool off at Splash Montana if they haven't already. "It's just a blast there," Rye said. If people haven't taken a dip there this summer, she told them, "get a kid and go."
- Ward 4 Councilman Jon Wilkins said the city received many compliments this weekend for The Lake, the new 50-meter pool at Splash Montana, from people attending the Firecracker swim meet.