January 18, 2024

Bozeman Journal

Good Morning Bozeman. We're so ready for the weekend. Fresh snow and warmer weather is looking good for a day at Bridger or perhaps a trip to the sledding hill with the kids!

In this edition:

  • Parking Woes
  • Greenlights for Alley Improvements
  • Things to Do This weekend

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Parking Woes

Parking project proposals seem to lose viability in this town just as much as the Detroit Pistons lose basketball games.

This past Tuesday the Downtown Business Partnership (DBP), spent much of their first board meeting of the year, focused on the topic of parking. Specifically, they learned that the proposal to add two stories to the existing parking garage on Black is now effectively off the table. Discussions around the extension of the existing structure reach as far back as 2018 and include a feasibility analysis that was completed in 2019.

In 2022 the City Commission considered paid parking downtown but voted to end any further analysis of the topic in January of '23. And just last November the Bozeman Public Library Board of Trustees voted against proceeding with the construction of a parking garage on their lot; a proposal that included a new hotel, condos, and multi-family homes.

An article published by NBC Montana last Sunday highlighted downtown parking concerns raised by Tim Benson, GM of Rocking R’ Bar. He's less concerned about the quantity of parking spaces and more concerned about the management of it. Pointing out the financial burden on employees who might have to pay for parking beyond two hours in the garage and the potential dangers of prohibiting street parking between 2 am and 7 am.

And although unrelated to the City’s parking policies or improvements, MSU just received two approvals from the Board of Regents to spend a total of $17 million on parking infrastructure improvements and maintenance across campus; most notably increasing inventory at the stadium lots by 50%.

Big picture.... parking is just one of the many challenges our community faces as it continues to grapple with growth, urban planning, and evolving transportation needs. When the City Commission meets in the next few weeks to set their priorities for the coming year, it's expected that affordable housing and urban camping will be two of the hottest topics. While the Unified Development Code (UDC) is expected to be dusted off and pushed forward this year, there's not a lot of promise that the City will be squarely focused on solving parking improvements or management.

Amidst all this, new technologies such as autonomous vehicles and robotaxis are hitting America's roadways, potentially disrupting the transportation industry in a manner similar to the ride sharing impact a decade ago. This means that any immediate solutions for parking expansion and management will also require serious long-term planning and consideration.

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The North Black to Tracy Alley Improvement Project, spearheaded by the Downtown Business Partnership (DBP), is taking its final footsteps forward.

The 4 year project is expected to be completed by September 30, 2024 according to Ellie Staley, the Executive Director of the Downtown Bozeman Partnership, who shared these updates during the Downtown Urban Renewal Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

With the paperwork and majority of logistics now finalized, the artists are set to brighten up the area. Stella Nall will be creating a mural on the West side, while Kelsey Dzintars will bring her artistic vision to the East side. The alleyway will also be adorned with three sculptures by artist Kelsey Clark; each sculpture strategically placed along the alley and attached to the garage facade.

For those curious about the creative process behind these artworks, you can dive into the artist narratives and view the detailed renderings at this link here.

The goal of the project is to transform the area into a pedestrian-friendly zone, creating an instagrammable unique destination for both locals and tourists and it aims to breathe new life into an underutilized space. The project is estimated to cost around $300,000, funded through a combination of grants and Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) Funds.

The DBP is hoping that with the completion of this first alley, they may have expedited logistical success with future alley enhancements.

Things To Do

  • Nashville standup comedian Aaron Weber will be serving laughs at Last Best Comedy Friday at 7 pm.
  • The Ellen Theater is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Mary Poppins with a screening on Friday at 7:30pm. Tickets are $9.
  • Dirtwire is playing live at The Elm on Friday. Doors open at 7pm.
  • 4 additional Love Is Blind: Sweden episodes drop on Friday. We'll be on our couches with the popcorn.
  • Bridger Bowl is hosting the annual apron challenge from 11:30am - 2pm on Saturday.
  • Both the MSU Women's & Men’s Basketball teams play the UM Grizzlies for the Brawl of the Wild. The women's team tips off at 2 & the men tip off at 7pm on Saturday.