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City, county support plan for mill site

| December 5, 2006 11:00 PM

By BRENT SHRUM Western News Editor

A $2.5 million redevelopment proposal for the former Stimson mill site has the support of the city council and the county commissioners.

The commissioners last week approved a $400,000 federal Community Development Block Grant application to help fund the project, and on Monday the city council did likewise.

If approved, the two grants would fund nearly one-third of the cost of the proposed project. Additional funding would include a $1.5 million grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and $231,391 in an interest-free economic development loan that could be obtained through Flathead Electric Cooperative.

Donated by Stimson to the Lincoln County Port Authority in late 2003, the 400-acre former mill site is currently under the ownership of the Kootenai Business Park Industrial District and managed by Kootenai River Development Council. Last month, KRDC director Paul Rumelhart briefed the council on the redevelopment plan, which includes improvements aimed at making the site more suitable for multiple tenants. The budget includes $739,580 for roads, $688,730 for the water system, $529,195 for the sewer system, $298,886 to improve rail lines, $200,000 for electrical improvements and $75,000 to upgrade and move the scale.

The industrial district would also like to turn the site's sewer system over to the city and its electrical infrastructure over to Flathead Electric, Rumelhart told the council.

According to Rumelhart, the site supports more than 360 jobs - not all of which are on-site - and could someday support as many as the 1,500 that were associated with the site when mill operations were at their peak.

The council approved the grant application by a 5-1 vote. Council members Bill Bischoff, Wally McElmurry, Charlene Leckrone, Lee Bothman and Peggy Williams voted in favor of the proposal while Doug Roll voted against.