Community scavenger hunt on now as part of citywide wayfinding plan

Since COVID has hindered plans for public meetings, the group working on the city’s wayfinding plan is hosting a free scavenger hunt.

The Great Falls Wayfinding Plan Expedition Scavenger Hunt is open through 5 p.m. Aug. 31.

Participants will use clues provided by organizers and their knowledge of Great Falls locate and travel to destinations scattered throughout the city. All complete entries will be entered into a prize drawing.

Planning board recommends approval of more TIF funds for wayfinding plan

The Expedition Scavenger Hunt is a way for the public to get involved in the creation of the wayfinding plan.

Earlier this summer community members were invited to participate in an online mapping effort to collect popular destinations and earlier in August, more than 300 responses were collected for an online survey.

“Given current restrictions on large public gatherings, the Scavenger Hunt will bring awareness to the planning effort without encouraging large public gatherings,” according to release from the organizers.

The Business Improvement District in cooperation with the Downtown Development Partnership and the City of Great Falls, is working on the Explore Great Falls Wayfinding Plan that will draw and direct residents and visitors passing through the area to explore amenities, attractions and businesses within the community, according to the downtown groups. It will connect pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles with downtown and adjacent destinations and local amenities.

Public asked to take wayfinding survey

The project is being funded with $15,000 in grant funding from the Montana Department of Commerce’s Montana Main Street Program; $25,000 in downtown tax increment financing funds that were earmarked in 2017; Business Improvement District, Tourism Business Improvement District and DDP contributed $6,500 each toward the project. The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and GFDA each contributed $1,000.

The group is requesting an additional $5,050 from the West Bank Urban Renewal TIF District for the total $66,550 contact cost for plan development, which doesn’t include fabrication of signs, construction or placement of signs.

Public asked to add destinations for wayfinding plan

“A comprehensive wayfinding program is essential to connect pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles with Downtown Great Falls and the surrounding cultural, natural and recreational amenities. By providing prominent, appealing signage, many who would otherwise simply travel through Great Falls or those who are not familiar with the area, will learn about the services, destinations and points of interest that are available. The wayfinding plan will help residents and visitors easily navigate the city and the surrounding area and readily find attractions and available services such as schools, healthcare facilities, museums & exhibits, public parking, public restrooms, parks, trails, galleries, library, city and county offices, police department, etc.,” according to a release from the wayfinding plan organizers.

Downtown groups seeking proposals for wayfinding plan

The BID is an accredited member of the Montana Main Street program and is a nationally recognized Main Street America member. The BID and DDP with the City of Great Falls, released a request for proposals in October 2019 and selected Cushing Terrell, formerly known as CTA Architects Engineers, for the project.

During the April 22 DDP meeting, Nicole Olmstead from Cushing Terrell told the group that the main focus was to create a clear and consistent signage plan to get visitors moving throughout the community.

Wayfinding project planned for downtown in effort to improve economic development, connectivity and tourism

The downtown organizations and the city have been discussing options for wayfinding plans for years but have had little success in securing a grant for the project so far. Officials and downtown groups have often said they’d prefer to develop an organized plan for the downtown area, or the entire city, versus piecemealing signage for things like parking.

Parking board continues strategic planning effort

Scavenger Hunt details can be found the Great Falls Wayfinding Plan Expedition Facebook Event page or check out additional plan details on the Explore Great Falls Wayfinding project Facebook page.