Council Briefs: Variety of Issues Addressed at March 7 Council Meeting


With Mayor John Muhlfeld out of town for the March 7 city council meeting, Deputy Mayor Frank Sweeney and councilors successfully dealt with a myriad of agenda items.

Main water supply rejection approved

In an unusual twist on typical council procedure, the director of public works, Craig Workman, asked the council to reject the only bid received for the construction of the new Spokane Avenue water main. The offer was rejected.

“It’s new to me, I don’t think I’ve seen it before,” Sweeney said.

Workman said six contractors had applied and were qualified to bid on the project, but only one construction bid was received on Feb. 24.

“The offer was from Sandry Construction for $3,402,963,” Workman said. “That was about 70% more than our estimate for building the project which was $2 million.”

Workman said plenty of time was given for the bid and there were no requests for more time, but the short construction window caused several contractors not to bid on the project.

Staff will re-bid the project and allow contractors to begin construction this fall and finish next spring, completing work in two phases, Workman added.

“It will attract more competition and provide the city with more profitable construction costs, Workman said.

City to Bid for Phase 3 of Armory Park

The city hopes to move forward with the next phase of Armory Park improvements which could include the construction of new mixed-use trails, the addition of benches, and improvements to WAG Park.

Whitefish’s Armory Park is the largest park in the city, covering 30 acres and it’s time for phase three of the Armory Park Master Plan which was updated by the park board in 2019. At the board meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Maria Butts requested permission to proceed. with the tender for this part of the plan.

According to the staff report, this phase includes the construction of a shared-use path, irrigation improvements, parking and drainage improvements in the base offering. Butts also outlined seven additional alternatives that will be considered, including a new well, tree planting and improvements to WAG Park.

The project’s estimated budget is $749,700 with all potential upgrades and the project’s current budget is nearly $200,000 lower, Butts said. When the staff receives an offer, they review the construction costs and decide which alternatives to include, according to the staff report.

Council has authorized the application and if an acceptable offer is received and approved, construction is expected to begin in June and be completed in August.

Music School at Smith Fields

City staff recommended that council approve a lease amendment that will, among other things, allow the North Valley Music School (NVMS) to lease a portion of the land and build a new school. In 2004, Project Whitefish Kids (PWK) donated approximately 51 acres of land known as Smith Fields to the city, and the city leased Smith Fields to PWK.

Gloria Nelson, executive director of PWK, and Diedre Corson, executive director of NVMS, spoke during public comments in support of the lease amendment agreement. Corson said she is looking forward to the collaboration between the city, Project Whitefish Kids and North Valley Music School.

“We look forward to the next 70 years with our new lease to create a fabulous youth recreation facility for our entire community. We are currently working on finalizing the sublease with North Valley Music School,” Nelson said.

City staff report outlines proposed changes to lease, including 70-year term, clarified liability insurance requirements, ability for Project Whitefish Kids to sell liquor in conjunction with fundraising events and removing provisions requiring PWK to submit financial reports to the city.

The amendment is adopted unanimously.

City amends Twins lease

During the meeting, Parks Manager Maria Butts explained the long-term lease agreement between the Glacier Twins and the city, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was approved at the time of construction. a Verizon tower on the property eight years ago.

Last week, the city was seeking approval to change the deal.

The amendment includes increasing the insurance listed on the lease from $1 million to $1.5 million. This does not cost the city more as it was already established in a previous MOU, but now the insurance coverage will be correct in the original lease. The amendment also added that the park board should be consulted when the twins consider subletting the stadium to an outside party.

A 25-year lease between the city and the Glacier Twins began in 2003. In 2014, a memorandum of understanding was drafted for the construction of a Verizon tower on the property. It amended the emphyteutic lease and modified the insurance clause.

On March 7, Butts asked council to pass the resolution amending the Glacier Twins’ long-term lease on the Memorial Park land.

There were no questions and Council approved the resolution.

Changed daycare numbers

The item with the longest title on the evening’s agenda was the quickest to deal with. The request sought to redefine the number of individuals allowed in family child care centres, increasing the number from 12 to 15 children.

“This is a fairly straightforward text amendment to Title 11,” explained Tara Osendorf, long-range planner in Whitefish’s planning department. “The recommendation from the planning board was to recommend approval to council.”

There were no questions from council and no public comment; the case passed unanimously.

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