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Missoula College considers renting space

Faculty said they were notified Wednesday morning that the new Missoula College River Campus could be renting out space to the Department of Justice. However, the university says no decision has been made.

Sue Bradford is an adjunct instructor who’s worked at Missoula College for 12 years.

Bradford said they were told the Department of Justice would be renting out the first floor of the building and the faculty needed to make room for them to move in on Feb. 1.

She said the news came on their first day back for the spring semester, and faculty members were told during the general announcements from the administration, but the information came from the governor's office and his budget director.

Bradford said the announcement caught them by surprise. She said it brings up a lot of concerns about safety.

"Apparently it's going to take over our first floor, which is where our students and the public comes into the building, and we're all just wondering how that's going to play out. Is it a good match for missions? Are students going to be uncomfortable having public defenders and ostensibly their clients in the building? Is it going to be good for events that have been planned here?" said Bradford.

Spokeswoman Paula Short said they are exploring a rental agreement with another state agency, but it is very early in the process.

“The discussions around potential leasing of unused space in Missoula College are very preliminary. We have been approached about the potential to lease office space, but we have not, nor would we ever, make a decision without fully considering any/all impacts to our students, faculty, staff and our mission at Missoula College. Information shared today implying a decision about a lease is inaccurate; we are in an exploratory phase where any potential lessee – as well as the University of Montana – are considering possibilities,” said Short in a statement.

The Montana Department of Justice says that they are not involved in renting space at Missoula College.

The building off East Broadway is new. Its grand opening was in September.

The 2013 legislature appropriated $29 million for the building.

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