Residents decry Costco street plans; council welcomes mayor back to work after rehab
By Martin Kidston
A handful of residents of the Pleasant View neighborhood urged the Missoula City Council Monday to reconsider a grid extension on the city’s west side, part of which would accommodate a proposed new Costco store.
Several residents also welcomed Mayor John Engen back to the job after his four-week absence, during which he underwent treatment for alcoholism.
Residents of the Pleasant View neighborhood have expressed concern over plans to extend a feeder street to serve a new Costco store proposed for county property just outside the city limits.
Earlier this month, 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.
If the annexation is approved, Costco will be required to extend the boulevard from the new intersection on West Broadway south to Camden Street, in Pleasant View. Residents of the neighborhood are against the proposal.
“It’s a pretty quiet little neighborhood right now – there’s already a ton of traffic going on England (Boulevard),” said neighborhood resident Jason Shredder.
Shredder, who shops regularly at Costco, said it currently takes him 15 or 20 minutes to make a left-hand turn off Flynn Lane onto Mullan Road. He said his neighborhood lacks bike and pedestrian paths, and increased traffic could place area residents at risk.
“They feel like there’s a lot of increased traffic in the neighborhood,” Shredder said. “They’d rather not see this traffic tie into our neighborhood.”
Located off West Broadway, the property eyed by Costco sits 4,500 feet west of Reserve Street. Once annexed, the land would 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 – one it touts as a benefit to the entire region. 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.
While the extension has been envisioned in city plans for more than 20 years, several residents asked the city to change its plans. They said congestion on Mullan Road and North Reserve Street are a problem, and fear that residents will cut through the neighborhood to avoid the rush.
“It’s easy to count the cars going 40 to 45 down England Boulevard,” one woman testified. “We don’t need additional traffic. Any fool can get into a new venture, but only someone wise can decide before they go in how they’re going to get out.”
Monday’s City Council meeting marked the first in a month attended by Mayor John Engen. In a letter to the community on Monday, Engen said he’d checked into a recovery center and began rehab for alcoholism.
Engen declined interviews on Monday. At the council meeting, he said the support and encouragement of friends “saved my life.” He said nothing further, though several members of the council and the public welcomed him back.
“It’s really good to see you chairing the meeting,” said Ward 6 council member Marilyn Marler, who served as acting mayor in Engen’s absence.
Jim Parker, a Democratic operative, also welcomed Engen back to the job.
“I’d like to welcome your back to your seat where you belong,” Parker said. “To share that (open letter) with the community takes a lot of courage and aplomb.”