Kalispell revises parking details in downtown plan

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Several proposed changes to fine-tune the city of Kalispell’s vision for parking in the downtown plan will be considered by the Kalispell Planning Board on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The downtown plan was tabled to address comments the city received from the Montana Department of Transportation and the public.

A sentence was added into the U.S. 93 courthouse couplet strategy, noting the Environmental Impact Study for the U.S. 93 rebuild through downtown states the purpose of the highway project “was to more efficiently move people by reducing congestion and improve safety.” The city and Flathead County differ over the reconfiguration of the highway when it is rebuilt. Kalispell prefers a two-lane option through downtown; the county is sticking with the state’s preferred alternative of a four-lane road through the city’s heart.

Another proposed revision further questions what the priorities are regarding the proposed alternatives for the U.S. 93 reconfiguration downtown.

“Improving traffic and pedestrian safety while maintaining acceptable traffic flow, or moving traffic with minimum amount of delay and accepting higher safety risks that come with efficiently moving traffic?” the plan states. “The study (the 1993 environmental impact study) also does not identify how nearly 30,000 cars would function at Main Street’s intersection with Idaho [Street] or how that amount of traffic would work with the Core Area trail.”

Another suggested addition to the downtown plan is additional language about parking structures, noting that such structures allow for surface parking lots to be replaced with new commercial construction.

Providing larger parallel parking isles on both sides of the street, separating pedestrians from traffic, is another suggested change.

In the implementation section of the downtown plan, three additional parking goals have been added: work with the owners of private lots to increase the number of parking permits being sold for employees within downtown; develop better signs identifying public parking lots; and identify areas of employee parking to reduce the amount of “rocking and rolling” to avoid traffic tickets.

Other proposed changes to the downtown plan include:

• Investigate alternative funding mechanisms to reduce impact fees in the downtown.

• Encourage public/private partnerships to fund the creation and display of public art.

• Encourage the temporary closure of side streets off Main Street for special community events.

In other business, the Planning Board will consider a request from the developer of the Bloomstone housing development in north Kalispell for subdivision approval to build out the remaining five phases of the project.

Kalispell National Investment Co., LLC, wants a green light from the city of Kalispell to subdivide the remaining 42 acres at the site and develop 96 lots.

The board will hold a public hearing on the request.

Located on Treeline Road off Old Reserve Drive, near the U.S. 93 bypass, Bloomstone was approved in 2008 for 569 dwelling units on 85 acres. That approval expired during the ensuing years as the Flathead Valley experienced an economic downturn, so an updated application requires approval.

The first phase of Bloomstone was completed about two years ago and included 96 apartments — eight 12-plexes — and 25 single-family homes.

The Planning Board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Kalispell City Hall, 201 First Ave. E. in Kalispell.

For more information, visit http://www.kalispell.com/planning/board.php.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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