Thursday, March 7, 2013

This meeting will now come to...

City Leaders, Lewistown Montana, 1897

Monday evening I attended the
Lewistown City Commissioner's
Meeting. At 7 pm the session
was called to order. After all
of the controversy, one would
assume the place would be full
of irate residents. Yet sadly,
beyond the five commissioners
and other city officials, there
were four residents including
myself in attendance.
Does anybody care?
After approving the minutes, our
Commissioners reported on their
recent activities which involved
attending meetings, and sitting
on committees. Next the agenda
shifted to "sprucing up" a picnic
area, pot holes, allocating state
funds, and zoning applications.
Not very exciting...
Both involved small businesses
run out of residential garages.
One a fish and bird taxidermy.
The other, boat seat upholstery.
As the details were outlined, few
queries were made. Rather, our
leaders sat as if examples of the
taxidermist's art.

Throughout the session it was
obvious that the agenda did
not seem to warrant more than
their passive review. The only
real interaction that occurred
involved a salaried city official
coaching the commissioners on
how to word their
rote motions of approval.

Next, they opened up the session
to comments from the public.
At this point I must remind you
as to why I was at this meeting.
Commissioner Gayle Doney
had proposed tearing down one
of the oldest cut stone structures
in the center of downtown.
When challenged, the esteemed
Ms. Doney pleaded for
feedback to the public.
Actually two structures, 
the Power Mercantile was
built of local hand cut
stone in 1901 (above).
It faces Main Street while
the attached "annex",
circa 1913 (shown left)
faces Broadway Street.

Back to the meeting - 
The first resident to get up and
speak was the "annex" owner.
For over a year, he has been
embroiled in a bitter battle with
the city. At issue are repairs of
badly damaged sidewalks that sit
above his building's basement.
To date the issue has not been
resolved. Not only angry with
the previous owner (who still
retains the other half), he wants
the city to pay for repairs and is
on record as ready to demolish
should this not happen.
It's a total mess!

Reading a rambling statement, he claimed that our downtown challenges were due to a lack of attractions for "young people".  He proposed condemning the 1901 Power Mercantile building, forcing it's owner (his nemesis) to demolish, and then asking him to hand over the lot to the city. In return our kind friend would strip his building of all valuable materials, demolish, and also donate his land. He closed stating that their parcel gifts to the citizens of Lewistown could then become
"a beautiful park for the kids".

Sorry friends, but this isn't the end.
Tune in tomorrow for the next installment...