Missoula County qualifies open space purchase for public hearing

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Citing the value of public access to the Clark Fork River, Missoula County commissioners on Thursday qualified an open-space project for possible funding and a public hearing later this month.

The 4.6-acre parcel of land with access to the river and the Milwaukee Trail also passed the City Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee last month. The cost of acquisition, including fees, is roughly $320,000.

“It’s a parcel that’s right next to the Clouse parcel, which the city did last year,” said Kali Becher, the county’s open space project manager. “It would provide legal access to the parcel, as well as provide opportunities for commuter trails, protect riparian areas, and gain access to an old bridge.”

Known as the Kolendich property, the parcel of land sits at the nexus of past open-space acquisitions, including the 75-acre Clouse property – an island parcel acquired by the city in 2016.

The Kolendich parcel would provide public access to the Clouse property by an existing bridge and enable the city to extend the Milwaukee Trail further west. The trail currently dead-ends at the property line on Grove Street.

If approved, the acquisition would leave the city with roughly $500,000 left in its open space bond.

On Thursday, the county also agreed to transfer $75,000 toward an open space easement approved last month. The Teague-Woodworth Meadows easement includes 90 acres of agricultural land and wildlife habitat near the Blackfoot Clearwater Wildlife Management Area.

“This budget amendment simply transfers the funds from the general open space bond to a line item so we can prepare for closing,” said Becher. “The project is likely to close later this month or early march.”

The county has roughly $700,000 left its portion of the open space bond.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com