Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Mill plan includes rec potential

| September 15, 2004 12:00 AM

By Paul Boring. Western News Reporter

CTA Architects Engineers unveiled its master plan for the Stimson Mill site during a public meeting on Monday evening, proposing light industry and recreational use for the expansive area.

The Port Authority hired the firm to draw up the plan for the conceptual redevelopment of the mill site. Ron Slade of CTA presented the plan, emphasizing that nothing is set in stone.

³This is just a draft,² he said. ³It is by no means final. We want it to be what you want it to be.²

Slade said that industry clusters, or groups of industries tied to one another through symbiotic relationships, would be optimal for the area and utilize 3- to 5-acre parcels. The finger jointer would also remain active.

A medical cluster would occupy one area, producing surgical appliances and supplies, servicing the healthcare industry.

A wood products cluster was also proposed, dealing in wood kitchen cabinets, trusses and prefabricated wood buildings.

Rounding out the light industry would be a section for the production or assembly of travel trailers and campers, products Slade said would fit with regional needs.

Slade displayed the master plan superimposed over an actual aerial photo, the proposed changes markedly different from the current mill site.

Roughly 40 percent of the site is in the flood plain, which would eliminate new construction of most buildings. To limit liability for the Port Authority, the plywood plant would likely be razed. Slade said the maintenance plant could possibly be reused if seismic concerns were assuaged.

In addition to the light industry, Slade highlighted a number of recreational features in the plan, including a moto-cross/ATV/mud bog racetrack, a snowmobile course, a bike and pedestrian trail, a nature area for bird watching, fishing ponds, a community garden, and an interpretive center in close proximity to the Heritage Museum.

³We have an awful lot of land to utilize here,² Slade said.

Noise pollution has been a bone of contention for many Libby residents. With the addition of a racetrack, the noise would only increase. Slade said a decibel study could be done in sensitive areas and noise could be mitigated through the use of large dirt berms.

³It¹s not an insurmountable task at all,² he said.

Materials shipping would be viable, Slade said, given the accessible rail spur. A high-end motel and office space were also proposed for the site.

³There¹s some pent up demand you have here for this site,² he said.

Slade highlighted the potential Libby has to attract tourists. With an attractive plan employing connectivity with the town and the recreational opportunities, the city could be a destination for travelers.

One logistical challenge presented by the master plan was the congestion the changes would bring. Although event and overflow parking was addressed in the draft, further studies would be required to deal with the quandary.

³This will generate a lot of traffic,² Slade said.

Pending comments from the Port Authority and the public, CTA will incorporate the changes and submit another plan.