Special Improvement Districts: Potential remedy for Havre streets and sidewalks.

(Havre) During this weeks meeting of the Havre Streets and Sidewalks committee, the increase in complaints about the quality of the roads in Havre was acknowledged by Havre Public Works Director Trevor Mork.

Mork explains that the reason that the roads are being patched instead of replaced is because the city is currently focusing on it’s water pipe infrastructure, which is currently over 70 years old, which will involve cutting into the streets. He reasoned that it doesn’t make much sense to repair roads to brand new shape, just to have to tear them up as the water system crumbles.

While the roads will become a priority once the water system has been addressed, Mork did offer a solution to those who want to hasten the process: Special Improvement Districts

“It’s a way for a more defined part of the community, if they want to collaborate on improving their neighborhood, their street, or any components that benefit that district”

The Special Improvement District is something that must be started by a collection of residents that are willing to foot an extra bill each year in order to improve their area, whether it be the streets and sidewalks, the sewer grates, or even the water lines themselves, according to Mork.

Starting one is a legal process, but one that Mork argues only foreboding and costly at first; calling much of the process “grant friendly”, meaning that there’s a lot of ways to make your particular proposal look appeasing to those providing grants.

The City of Billings’ public works department has a page that can be found here, which may help interested individuals get started on improving their block or collection of blocks.

Mork also says that those looking to improve their area should understand that replacing the water mains first and then the street will likely avoid future headaches, harkening back to the same reasoning that the city is currently using for their maintenance/improvement priorities, “Why paint a house if the foundation is crumbling?”

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