City Commissioners approved land swap; wayfinding plan; Civic Center repair contract
City Commissioners unanimously approved a land swap and two subdivision actions during their April 6 meeting for the Independence Bank project at the corner of River Drive and 10th Street North.
The land swap will allow the future connection of the River’s Edge Trail to the 10h Street Bridge.
The bank is working with local contractors to finalize construction plans and when completed, the Great Falls location will be a full-service branch, according to the bank.
True Brew will be the coffee shop on the first floor of the three-story building, with a full service menu, indoor seating, a drive-through window and an outdoor patio, according to the bank.
During the meeting, Commissioner Owen Robinson said “this is one of the really, really exciting things in Great Falls.”
Commissioners also unanimously the wayfinding plan and a memorandum of understanding with the Downtown Development Partnership for the maintenance of the signs.
The plan includes 58 motorists signs, 20 pedestrian signs, and up to 10 kiosks in order to inform and direct the public to places of interest within the city. The majority of the signs will have at least one destination toward the downtown business district.
Other destinations will include not-for-profit organizations such as museums, galleries, the University of Providence Great Falls, and city attractions such as the Civic Center and prominent parks, according to the staff report. The plan calls for five signs to be placed outside the city limits but the agreement with the DDP doesn’t include those signs and the DDP will have to work with Cascade County or other appropriate agencies to install and maintain those signs, according to the city.
It’s not meant to include private business or commercial endeavors, according to the city.
If destinations wish to be included in the future, an amendment to the plan will be required.
The agreement with the DDP addressed the initial installation of the signs and their long-term maintenance.
The DDP has agreed to be responsible for the initial implementation and installation of the 53 motorist signs within the city limits, 20 pedestrian signs and up to 10 possible kiosks. The group has agreed to the maintenance of the installed signage for the first life cycle, ordinarily considered to be 7-10 years after the first installation of the signs. The city will own the signs upon installation.
Once the signs’ first life-cycle has expired, the city and the DDP will inspect the signage and determine if they are ready for replacement. If it is determined that the signs are ready for replacement, the city will take on long-term maintenance for the signs, but the city has the right to refuse to replace individual signs if it determines that they are in a damaged condition, not simply in need of replacement, and/or otherwise unacceptable, according to the agreement.
The DDP intends to request tax increment financing funds toward sign installation and the city would also likely seek to use those funds for maintenance or replacement signs in the future.
The city has received a $12,500 grant from the Montana Main Street program toward wayfinding implementation.
Joan Redeen, of the Business Improvement District, said during the March 24 DDP meeting that they’re waiting to hear back on whether they’ll get a $85,000 grant from the state tourism agency for implementation and then seek TIF funds for any remaining cost.
Mayor Bob Kelly said, “this is a long term benefit to the community as a whole. I think it’s value will be demonstrated over time.”
Commissioners also approved the sale of bonds to fund the Civic Center façade and roof repair project. They also approved a $5.4 million contract to Talisman Construction Services, Inc. of Spokane, Wash., the low bidder, for the project.