City receives $84k grant toward wayfinding implementation

The Business Improvement District received $84,184 from the Montana Department of Commerce’s Tourism Grant Program to implement the wayfinding plan.

Joan Redeen, BID director, announced the award during the April 28 Downtown Development Partnership meeting.

The grant program awards funding annual to “projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the state’s tourism and recreation industry. Eligible entities based in Montana that may apply for a tourism grant include city and county entities, non-profit organizations and tribal entities,” according to the state.

City Commissioners approved land swap; wayfinding plan; Civic Center repair contract

The DDP also approved contributing $6,500 to the implementation phase of the plan and other agencies are also contributing as they did for the planning stage.

Earlier this month, City Commissioners unanimously approved the wayfinding plan and a memorandum of understanding with the Downtown Development Partnership for the maintenance of the signs.

City receives $12,500 grant toward wayfinding implementation

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.

The city had already received a $12,500 grant from the Montana Main Street program toward wayfinding implementation.

Last year, the city, the BID and other entities went through a public process to develop the wayfinding plan on a $66,550 contract with Cushing Terrell. The planning phase determined approximate sign locations and design, it didn’t include fabrication of signs, construction or placement of signs.

Tax increment financing funds through the city were also used to fund the planning phase, as well as grants and contributions from the DDP, BID, Tourism Business Improvement District, Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Great Falls Development Authority.

The BID is working with Cushing Terrell again to develop the bid documents for the implementation phase.

Wayfinding plan now complete and available for review

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.

City Commission approves portion of TIF request for downtown project, funds for wayfinding project

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 Montana Department of Commerce also awarded a $6,000 tourism grant to the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce to create a safe use Missouri River map for the city.