Preparations underway for Bigfork parking expansion

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BOB KEENAN removes a ceiling fan in a building set to be demolished in the next few weeks to create more parking in downtown Bigfork. Keenan’s wife, Suzie, is president of the Bigfork Community Development Foundation Trust that is working to develop more parking on Grand Avenue. (Scott Shindledecker/Daily Inter Lake)

Efforts by members of the Bigfork Community Development Foundation Trust continue this fall in preparation to expand downtown parking.

According to foundation president Suzie Keenan, the building that formerly housed Blush Salon and Bigfork Frame Shop on Grand Avenue is set to be torn down sometime between Oct. 15 and 20.

In May, the Flathead County Commissioners approved the rezoning of the area where a nearly one acre plot of land is situated. Once the building is torn down, it can be prepped for paving. The Bigfork Center of the Performing Arts bought the property.

The lot is expected to add about 70 new, and free, spaces to the 140 that are currently packed into downtown. The hill at the back of the lot will be graded for a second tier of parking

On Saturday, Suzie and her husband, Bob, were working on tearing out some of the fixtures that are still in the building. It was part of the effort to raise money to help pay for the new lot.

The Keenans, who ran the Bigfork Inn for more than 30 years, have been busy with the building.

“Anyone that wants to stop and get some of the fixtures, doors, whatever, is welcome to call and we can meet them so they can see if there is anything they may be interested in,” Suzie Keenan said.

Some of items available are a bay window, toilets, double pane windows, air conditioner, hot water tank and ceiling fans, for a small donation.

She said the community response has been very positive with donations coming in from $50 to $25,000.

The center’s efforts through a mailing to individuals and businesses netted about half of the $1.3 million needed to complete the work.

“We believe the parking will be a major economic driver for the community,” she said. “We’ve already had people parking here after they found out we had it, so it’s already had a benefit to downtown businesses.”

In a previous Daily Inter Lake article, Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts board member and project leader Walter Kuhn said, while the project wouldn’t completely solve the parking issue downtown, it’s a “huge step in the right direction.”

The lot will be maintained year-round by the performing arts center, which Kuhn said would benefit most from the new lot.

For more information call 250-5772.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com

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