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I’m frustrated and deeply disappointed at the recent city council vote to discontinue the city's partnership with Landmark on the One Big Sky District project.

This vote will have major ramifications for me, my family and most Billings residents under the age of 40. I grew up here and love Billings, but over the last six years I’ve watched countless friends move way or struggle to find work. Drive the city core this weekend: How many vacant commercial signs do you see? Many have been up for years. They may swap windows, but the proportion of vacant space never seems to change. Now we also have the abandoned “anchors” of Gainan’s and Good Earth Market. There are no public parks, plazas, blocked-off streets or other destinations for families. The farmers market is only open July through September. Downtown housing is not at all “affordable” and it’s been this way since I was a kid — it’s clear that our city does not have enough local, private development to revitalize the core in a substantial way on our own.

Closing this contract means we’re fine with this status quo. But this is unacceptable. The Billings I leave my daughters should be thriving. It should be a place young people actively want to live, a place they can support their families. I urge the council to reconsider this vote. Billings can be so, so much more than just another Montana hometown our kids can’t wait to escape.

Kendra Shaw

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Billings

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