ASMSU, City Commission hold joint meeting to discuss concerns

A joint meeting between ASMSU and city commissioners took place on Thursday, Oct. 13 in SUB Ballroom B. While joint meetings have happened in the past, this was the first one since 2012. City commissioners, Bozeman Mayor Carson Taylor and ASMSU elected officials discussed construction, affordable housing and student concerns about the city of Bozeman.

Community Development Planning Interim Director Chris Sauders gave an overview of the current and future plans for the city of Bozeman and discussed affordable housing, addressing obstacles with Bozeman’s growing population. “One of the challenges we continue to have as a community is keeping up with infrastructure and being able to mobilize and fund projects while at the same time meeting demands,” he said. He added that companies have expressed interest in building additional apartment complexes near the university, but he has yet to receive applications from interested companies about the “sizable projects.” “We’re seeing additional interest in new units and housing complexes … building additional units orientated specifically at students,” Sauders said.

Neighborhood Coordinator Jessica Johnson presented after Sauders to discuss “Walk This Way,” a program piloted this September aimed at minimizing disturbances caused by rowdy college students as they depart from bars and parties on the weekends. Local law enforcement identified a few intersections noted as particularly loud, so Johnson assembled a team of volunteers to set up a booth in those areas on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. “Walk this Way” ended in September as students tend to walk home less as the temperature drops, but Johnson hopes the program will resume next September.

As people walked by the booth, which was equipped with drinks and snacks, Johnson and fellow volunteers reminded them to be respectful of community members on their walk home. They reminded people to use actual bathrooms instead of relieving themselves outside, and to throw away trash in receptacles instead of littering. To see if Johnson’s efforts have had an effect, the number of noise and nuisance complaints from previous years will be compared with recent numbers. While the data has not been processed yet, Johnson said that “initial feedback from the neighborhood associations has been very positive … people appreciate the effort.”

The meeting ended with Taylor asking the ASMSU student senators a question: “What do you think of us? What are we doing right and wrong?” Taylor encouraged dialogue about a sales tax, construction on Lincoln Street and even composting. ASMSU Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Matthew Campbell commended Bozeman, “I am blown away with the downtown area,” but expressed frustration with construction projects. “A couple of the construction projects are making it difficult for students to commute to campus,” he said. City commissioners said that Lincoln Street is closed for a city sewer project, and reminded the crowd that due to Montana’s harsh winters, there is less time for construction projects.

Also discussed in the meeting was a proposed Law and Justice Center. Check next week’s Exponent for an article about the proposed Law and Justice Center.