Monday, February 06, 2023

Future is bright along the Parkline Trail

by Daily Inter Lake
| July 17, 2022 12:00 AM

A vision 10 years in the making will finally be realized with the grand opening of Kalispell’s Parkline Trail on Thursday, July 21. And while this worthy celebration marks the end of the line for the trail project, it’s just the beginning of what the future holds along this corridor that is ripe with possibilities.

The work up to this point has been immense.

Adoption of the Kalispell Core Area Plan in 2012 set the stage, and a few years later $10 million in critical federal funding was secured. All the while, local and state officials worked to secure the necessary right of way, and complete environmental assessments and design plans.

And there was the massive endeavor to create the new Glacier

Rail Park off Whitefish State Road, allowing downtown’s rail-reliant businesses to remain a part of the community while clearing the way for the trail’s progression through the so-called core area.

The number of community leaders involved in the heavy lifting is too long to list here in full, but there is no doubt that their work has left a lasting legacy for the city.

The trail has already become a popular place for walking and biking. And while the recreation and transportation benefits are certainly of value, the realization of the economic gain that can come from the project is just beginning.

Now that the groundwork is laid, it’s time for the private sector to unleash this area’s potential. Core area plans call for vibrant mixed-use developments encompassing residential and commercial uses, while weaving in open spaces for the public to gather and recreate.

We’ve already seen the creative sparks fly with some visionary entrepreneurs. Just look at the silo renovation project from Mick Ruis that proposes shopping, restaurants, lodging and housing, or to the folks at SunRift Beer Company who early on saw the untapped possibilities in this area.

More will certainly follow with the anchor point that is the trail now in place.

It’s not hyperbole for Mayor Mark Johnson to suggest that this community-driven project will transform Kalispell over the next century. It already has, and we can’t wait to see how the future unfolds.

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