COLUMBIA FALLS – Columbia Falls is undergoing some changes that aim to beautify and direct business downtown.
Life long local resident O’Brien Byrd — who owns and operates Jim Gym and O’Brien’s Liquor Store — has seen the town change over the years. He says the revitalization is badly needed.
“I used to own a business on Nucleus and because there was a lack of tourist business we literally moved business locations to Highway 2 to have exposure to those visitors,” Byrd told MTN News.
He’s hoping the new welcome signs will draw people downtown instead of just passing through to Glacier National Park.
He says the final signs will be 12 feet tall and cost around $40,000 with all of the money for the project raised by local businesses.
Columbia Falls City Manager Susan Nicosia says they are dedicated to revitalizing downtown and told MTN News that the city has added several new apartment complexes — as well as updating their signs downtown.
“[We are] completing wayfinding signs that will direct to the schools and business areas as well as the North Fork, Camas entrance to Glacier National Park,” Nicosia said.
Columbia Falls High School students recently completed another part of the beautification effort by painting a mountain mural on Nucleus Avenue encouraging folks towards the downtown.
“It’s important for the Columbia Falls Community Foundation to make improvements to the city, that yes, not only help businesses but just as important — if not more importantly — make the community proud,” Byrd said.
He says the new welcome signs should be installed on May 20 and that a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held once the signs are in place.
Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News