Construction comes to West Seventh Street in Whitefish


WHITEFISH, Mont. - West Seventh Street is a rather quiet area with a country feel, but soon that's all going to change.

"We need to have a provision for pedestrians, it's a city street," said Jim Trout.

Trout lives on West Seventh Street and thinks the construction of the road is long overdue. He says the road hasn't changed in 30 years.

"The population of Whitefish has at least doubled, perhaps even tripled and the street has remained the same," said Trout.

Every year the city of Whitefish decides how it is going to repair the city using the resort tax money. The city has enough money to do other projects, but now leaders will have to decide which one is most important. It's based on a few factors.

"Condition of the road and other infrastructure out there, the need for water and sewer, and a little bit more the traffic volumes," said Whitefish City Manager Chuck Stearns.

City officials believe that with the addition of sidewalks and street lights, it will make the streets safer. But not everyone agrees. Some residents enjoy the rural feel to West Seventh Street and don't want to see that change with sidewalks, bike paths and street lights.

"We have worked really hard to preserve the low density, dark night skies and the quiet character here. Street lights would be a major detriment," said Dee Blank.

Blank lives on six acres on West Seventh Street and spoke out to the council to postpone reconstructing the road a few weeks ago. She said she would rather see the resort tax money go to a road where people want the construction.

The city will hire a contractor, but plans aren't certain yet.

"We'll consider whether or not to do street lights, whether or not to bury the utilities underground and whether or not we want sidewalks on both sides," said Stearns.

City officials say that they will listen to the residents input dealing with the road construction.

The Whitefish resort tax gets $2 million a year and 60 percent of the money goes toward road reconstruction, 25 percent towards property tax decrease or credits, 5 percent for parks and trails and another 5 percent for vendor administrations.