Monday, May 29, 2023

Libby City Council renews contract to plan recreation

Daily Inter Lake | May 16, 2023 7:00 AM

The Libby City Council approved an agreement with Tony Petrusha on May 1 in an ongoing effort to provide contract services for the identification, detailed development and initial implementation of recreation projects in the Libby area.

Among other duties the position tasks Petrusha with establishing a list of recreation projects, actively pursuing grant projects and establishing a five-year-work plan and identifying stakeholders. He also coordinates with the Montana Department of Natural Resources, the United States Forest Service and other entities.

The new term of this agreement, which is the second renewal of the original 2018 agreement, will be good through 2025.

“Petrusha is paid through a fund that the City of Libby, the county and the Libby Parks District pay into, Sikes said. "He is paid in $40 an hour increments but does not work a 40-hour work week. As the previously allotted funds have not been depleted yet, the city did not pay $10,000 into the fund for this signing, Sikes said.”

Recently, Petrusha presented the Libby City Council with the South Flower Creek, Old Snowshoe Recreational Development plan. The trail was part of the 2016 greater libby area trails plan, Petrusha said.

Besides aiding with recreation projects, the position requires working toward defining a Director of Recreation, who will work under a to-be-determined entity.

Then recreation management would be undertaken by that individual as opposed to the courthouse maintenance worker, Petrusha said. Currently there is a Libby Park District, an entity that reports to Lincoln County, that was created in 1986, he said.

“It needs to upgrade this position and its framework so that it is looking at recreation throughout the greater Libby area,” he said.

As recreation increases then the need will rise for a full-time employee. For instance, out of the Libby Port Authority redevelopment, 150 acres are designated as recreational development, Petrusha said.

“When the Port Authority goes away then who’s going to be standing there holding those recreation facilities, that becomes the Park District,” he said.

Quality of Life

“If you look at new people coming on the market, they have three places to go to work, then they’re gonna look at the quality of life available at all of those places,” “That puts recreation high on the list.”

Over the last five years, and likely even 10 years, recreation has become a major driving factor in where people would like to live, Petrusha said.

He’s got a list of about 30 items that could fall into the category of recreation. Even in Libby there's a bike club, backcountry horse riders, shooting ranges, golf courses, ski hills, kayaking, boating and fishing. “It’s huge,” he said.

Currently he’s drafting a survey that will ask people what their interests are, what they'd like to see developed and which way do they think our recreation program should go?

“Recreation is gonna come and it’s gonna happen. We need to see how we want it to go and make a plan for it to go that way, rather than letting the tail wag the dog,” Petrusha said.