Imagine Missoula as a 1000 piece puzzle. Every piece needs to fit into place for it to be complete. They don’t all touch, but the bottom right corner would be nothing without the top left corner and every piece in between. The Missoula landscape is no doubt a puzzle. In order to complete our “Smart Growth puzzle”, every new development and infrastructure project, or puzzle piece, must echo the smart growth principles if it is to fit. Piece by piece we are developing a resilient, healthy, and connected community.
The COVID-19 pandemic is at the front of everyone’s mind right now. While we are responding to the immediate needs in our community and supporting organizations serving those hardest hit by the crisis, we can also continue our work to build a future that is just and sustainable. What if we told you there was an opportunity right now to design what the next “puzzle pieces” will look like?
The Mullan Area Master Plan is hosting a Public Design Charrette this week, featuring redesigned virtual activities to invite online participation while we are socially distant. Throughout the week, the City and County along with a consultant team of Dover, Kohl & Partners, Territorial Landworks, Inc., and Jacobs, are hosting several virtual sessions where citizens, designers, community leaders, and technical experts can collaborate and develop a vision for future growth. The Mullan Area is a big piece of our puzzle, comprising 2,000 acres between Mullan Rd. and West Broadway, west of Reserve Street and east of the airport. That’s almost double the size of downtown! This master plan is a perfect opportunity to align land use planning within Missoula to our goals and values as a climate smart community, and your involvement is important.
This week there are virtual open studios each morning and afternoon, and live meetings about water quality, transportation, climate adaptation, and more that you can participate in through chat functions and public comment sessions. Check the schedule and join any of the meetings you find relevant. And then offer your online comments. You can read more about the project and how to be involved in the process here.
When Professor Rob Davies gave his presentation in Missoula, he shared many sobering facts, one of which was that if the average American were to never turn on their heat, drive their car, or use fossil fuels in any way, each person would still burn through 6 tons of carbon per year (we are each allotted 44 tons of carbon as our lifetime’s budget). This is because of the systems around us and the infrastructure that has been built to support the way we live. Smarter land use and growth policies are one way we can create systemic change that allows us to lead lower impact lives.
For those of you who want to learn more, take the opportunity to get acquainted with the proposed developments in our community, read a bit about our vision for transportation and smart growth in our community and be an advocate for climate smart transportation, transit-oriented development and pedestrian scale design!
We’ll continue to update our Smart Growth and Land Use Planning page with upcoming development and infrastructure projects and other opportunities for you to support our low-carbon transportation goals and ensure that our community continues to grow wisely.
-Alli and Caroline