Neighborhood planning workshops to be hosted by city

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 19:18:15-04

HELENA — The City of Helena is hosting a series of neighborhood planning workshops starting next Monday. These meetings will run through Wednesday.

The City intends for these meetings to help create a vision for the Railroad/Midtown part of town and is encouraging all parties with ties to and vested interest in the area to join.

“The people are the experts here in a lot of sense, in the sense that, you know, they’re the experts on their own life and how they’re using the spaces that they move through,” says Planner 2 for the City of Helena, Michael Alvarez.

Alvarez says that citizens’ input is vital for this project.

These meetings will help create a neighborhood plan. SCJ Alliance, a consulting firm, is working with the city and citizens to create a neighborhood that works for all folks.

Bill Grimes, Principal with SCJ Alliance, highlighted the importance of maintaining the history and heritage of the area amidst renovation.

“One of the guiding principles for us when we write plans is that in 20 years people visiting this place recognize it. And where historic preservation is important, we really do build that into our plans,” says Grimes.

He wanted to make clear that change in the neighborhood isn’t necessarily inherent to all aspects of the plan going forward.

“I should say, I don’t want to presume change because there may be situations where people really, really like things the way that they are and they want to do what they can to preserve them,” says Grimes.

So far, they’ve narrowed down their outcomes to 3 scenarios: recreational, business district prosperity, and mobility.

“We believe that the final scenario will be a mashup of the three in some way. And we’re hoping that we can use our conversations next week to figure out exactly how to do that,” says Grimes.

The neighborhood plan that is created will be formed by the public’s input and will be a guide for policy, planning, and zoning in the area.

Again, the meetings are taking place next week Monday through Wednesday.