Resolution asks Congress to address backlog at Park Service

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The Columbia Falls City Council last week passed a resolution to support dedicated funding for Park Service deferred maintenance at national parks like Glacier.

Glacier National Park has about $148 million in deferred maintenance — projects that have been on hold because of the lack of funding. The biggest ticket item is the Many Glacier Road — which is in such rough shape, portions aren’t paved because it has so many slumps.

The Two Medicine Road is also in need of repair, particularly outside the Park’s boundaries, where it, too, has a wavy surface.

But there’s a host of other projects that have gone by the wayside due to lack of funding. They include a dozens of buildings, trails, backcountry campgrounds and even simple things, like bathrooms.

Park Service-wide, the backlog is about $11.3 billion, and in Montana, about $252 million total, the resolution notes. The figures are based on research done by the Pew Charitable Trust.

As a result, the “Columbia Falls City Council strongly encourages Congress to create a reliable, predictable stream of resources to address deferred maintenance needs in America’s National Park system.”

Pew is trying to get as many gateway communities to sign onto the resolution nationwide. Locally, Whitefish already has and the hope is that Kalispell will as well, said Charles Denowh, who is lobbying for the resolution on Pew’s behalf.

Denowh said Montana construction interests have also signed letters of support in favor of the resolution.

In other city news:

• Entered a consultant agreement with Morrison Maierle engineering for $1,800 for engineering for sidewalk additions and curbing at 529 and 531 Seventh Street West.

• Entered a task order not to exceed $10,000 with HDR engineering for future work on the city’s waste water treatment plant.

• Heard that the city could get a fish pond at River’s Edge Park provided it can find an outlet for 36,700 cubic yards of clean fill. The city might be able to get the state Montana Department of Transportation to take it for one of its local projects. Councilmembers also suggested that the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. could take it to fill the basements of the old plant. The pond, if constructed, would be about 1.8 acres in size. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has indicated in the past it would stock the pond at no cost to the city

• The city will have a public hearing on a conditional use permit at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 on a proposal by Robert Pero to build two six-plex housing units on Diane Road. The neighborhood already has several multi-family housing units.

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