As a former city councilperson, I’m hopeful that Billings will grow in an intelligent, attractive and sustainable way. I think Randy Hafer is the best choice for mayor to help us do this. Some of my thoughts:
• Downtown has improved greatly in the last 15 years (Hafer has been a key player in this), but more work is needed. The City of Billings should be an involved, enthusiastic partner in One Big Sky, provided it doesn’t take on unreasonable risk. Restaurants and taverns are doing well downtown, but the pedestrian daytime shopping experience needs improving. We must continue to incentivize the development of housing downtown and in the EBIRD tax-increment district. A strong downtown is the key to strong economic development citywide.
• West-end sprawl is out of control. Leapfrog and low-density development has been proven time and again to be very costly to the city in terms of building and operating infrastructure, the ability to adequately fund public safety, the ability to keep property taxes under control and the ability to maintain a high quality of life for everyone.
• Many of our suburban retail areas have become seas of signage and asphalt. We can do a better job, providing good shopping experiences in a more attractive way.
As an architect, urban planner and tireless civic leader, Hafer has the training, knowledge, experience, ideas, and passion to help guide us to be not just a bigger city but also a better city. He will provide the courageous leadership we need.
Don Olsen AIA