By Martin Kidston
Residents of a westside Missoula neighborhood expressed concern Monday night over plans to extend a feeder street to serve a new Costco store proposed for county property just outside the city limits.
As a result, the Missoula City Council sent a decision to annex the lot eyed by the wholesaler back to committee, saying they wanted more time to consider the future extension of Mary Jane Boulevard.
Costco will be required to extend the boulevard from the new intersection on West Broadway south to Camden Street, in Pleasant View.
“I think it’s important to listen to people and design a street that makes sense to the neighborhood, as well as the needs of the community,” said Ward 3 council member Emily Bentley, who sent the proposal back to committee. “But it’s important we build out the street. We have plans for a reason. I’ll support construction of Mary Jane and Costco.”
Located off West Broadway, the property eyed by Costco sits 4,500 feet west of Reserve Street in Ward 2. Once annexed, the land will be purchased by Costco and Mary Jane would be extended to meet West Broadway.
It’s there where the company hopes to build a 154,000-square-foot commercial building and a 24-pump gas station. Efforts to build the project at another location in Missoula fell through when Costco and the property owner weren’t able to agree on terms.
Dave Rodgers, a Costco representative based in Washington, asked the city to approve the annexation and zoning request. He said the city’s current Costco is dated and ill equipped to accommodate the city’s growing population.
“The one you have is quite old and needing to be updated,” said Rodgers. “We find the condition of that (current Costco) not being in such that we’d want to upgrade that (building). We’d rather build you a new Costco with all the bells and whistles and a new gas station. With that location, we feel we can get traffic in and out a lot easier.”
That traffic concerns residents of the Pleasant View neighborhood, located west of Reserve Street. While the city’s long-range transportation plan envisioned Mary Jane as a collector street, residents opposed the proposal as presented.
Roughly five people spoke against the proposal, with one saying good politics doesn’t necessarily result in good design. Another asked the city to make Mary Jane Boulevard “as obnoxious as possible” to deter motorists from using it.
“I know the construction of Costco is going to happen,” said one resident. “I also know that Mary Jane Boulevard is considered a feeder street for traffic. But Pleasant View – my neighborhood – already receives its fair share of traffic from drivers looking for a shortcut.”
After sending it back to committee for further discussion, Bentley reiterated plans for the area, which date back to the 1990s. Missoula is growing westward, she said, and connectivity will be key to smart growth.
“It’s important that we have connectivity,” she said. “If there’s neighborhoods where people only go to, that means there’s other neighborhoods where people are always going through. Connectivity is important for equity.”
The city will revisit the issue in the coming weeks, though that’s not likely to appease opponents.
“This is not a wise choice or placement,” one woman said of Costco’s chosen property. “There must be a location that doesn’t impact a school, a large residential area, or a road without the infrastructure needed to meet the huge amount of traffic.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org