MIKE NUGENT Introduces Resolution Committing City to Planning Future Demolition and Redevelopment of Johnson Street Property
MISSOULA – Missoula city council member and candidate for mayor Mike Nugent Monday submitted a resolution for consideration by the council that addresses planning for the future of the city-owned property on Johnson Street.
The resolution directs the Missoula Redevelopment Agency to begin Master Planning – or a similarly appropriate process – within one year for the property bordered by Johnson Street and North Avenue. Nugent’s proposed resolution also commits the city to deconstructing any buildings needed to prepare site for future mixed use as initially envisioned by the city.
The City of Missoula purchased 12 acres bordering Johnson Street, North Ave, and the Bitterroot Trail in 2017 with the intention of connecting the trail, constructing a park in an underserved area, and creating opportunities for mixed use and housing for all income levels. The trail connection was finished in 2018 and the Montana Rail Link Park opened in 2019, but since 2020, a portion of the property has been used as an emergency winter shelter for unhoused individuals. In June of 2023, the Mayor declared an emergency and stated the property would be used year-round as a temporary shelter.
Nugent is joined in a bipartisan effort by council members Sandy Vasecka and Kristen Jordan, both representing Ward 6 where the Johnson Street property is located.
“With the lack of engagement with the neighborhood surrounding Johnson Street and the Mayor’s declaration of emergency and decision to open the shelter year-round, these folks deserve some assurances that the future use of the property will be beneficial to the neighborhood and in line with the original intentions of the city when it acquired it,” Nugent said.
“Neighbors have come to council to voice their frustration at being left out of the decision-making process, and it’s a frustration many on council share,” Nugent added. “This neighborhood has been patient over the last four years, but with this most recent unilateral decision, I don’t blame them for lacking trust that they will be able to participate in the planning process for the future of Johnson Street.
“This resolution is intended to give them assurance that the city council hears their concerns and will make sure the intended process is carried out,” he said.
"As one of the lowest socio-economic areas of Missoula, this neighborhood deserves to have infrastructure upgrades, including affordable housing and local commerce,” Jordan said. “By kickstarting the Midtown Master Plan, residents of this neighborhood can have assurances from the city that a more suitable location will be found for the needed shelter. At the same time, they can be confident that new development will reflect the needs, wants, and identity of this neighborhood going forward."
"The Johnson street shelter was supposed to be a temporary emergency shelter- it is now in it's 4th year” added Vasecka. “There needs to be a timeline in place so that the neighborhood can have the predictability they deserve from their city elected officials."
Nugent reiterated that when the city acquired the property, the goal was to connect the trail along the railroad tracks, create a neighborhood park, and plan for mixed use on the remaining eight acres.
“For the community, the current use is not the best use,” he said, “and while the administration is working on bringing long-term solutions around the unhoused back to council, the time is right to begin planning for a better future on Johnson Street.”
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