Council taking tour of new parking garage

2014-08-18T00:30:00Z 2014-08-18T16:42:07Z Council taking tour of new parking garageBy MIKE FERGUSON The Billings Gazette

With just two items for discussion on the agenda, Monday’s Billings City Council work session probably won’t last well into the next morning, as last week’s meeting on the nondiscrimination ordinance did.

The work session begins at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at city hall.

Technically speaking, Monday’s meeting will begin at 4:45 p.m., and not in council chambers. Council members will receive a tour of the new Empire Parking Garage on Montana Avenue before convening their work session back at their customary spot. The parking garage tour is expected to conclude by 5:20 p.m.

Monday’s two discussion items are a memorandum of understanding on the Billings Livability Partnership and the 2014 Unified Planning Work Program. Both discussions will be followed by time for public comment. The public will also have opportunity to comment on items not on the agenda. A time for council discussion is also scheduled.

On the Billings Livability Partnership, Planning Division Manager Candi Millar wrote in a memo that the group is a public-private partnership whose purpose is to support community projects and programs that enhance the quality of life in Billings. Partners work together to attract public and private investment in projects that provide more transportation choices; promote equitable, affordable housing opportunities; support the existing community; align federal, state, regional and local policies and investment; and value what Millar called “our diverse community and its vibrant neighborhoods.”

Millar said the MOU is especially important at this time because the Policy Coordinating Committee — which considers and helps coordinate transportation projects at the city and county levels — plans to apply next year for a federal TIGER grant, an acronym for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. The grant would pay for upgrading the two downtown railroad underpasses and constructing two bicycle/pedestrian bridges across the railroad tracks.

“Having this MOU in place,” Millar wrote, “along with the additional MOUs from other partners, would help demonstrate the City of Billings’ understanding and acceptance of the livability principles.”

According to Transportation Planner Scott Walker, the Planning Division’s Draft 2015 Unified Planning Work Program is used primarily to program the federal dollars Billings receives from the Federal Highway Administration for transportation planning.

The document proposes planning activities for the 2015 federal fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015. It corresponds directly with the Planning Division’s annual work plan.

If the city council approves the document during its Aug. 25 meeting, it will be sent along to the Policy Coordinating Committee for consideration the next day.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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