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Kalispell receives $750K on behalf of manufactured home community

Daily Inter Lake | June 9, 2023 12:00 AM

A resident-owned manufactured home community seeking to hook into Kalispell’s water and sewer system has received a boost from the Montana Coal Endowment Program.

The city of Kalispell received $750,000 from the state-funded program on behalf of the Morning Star Community. City Manager Doug Russell announced the awarding of the funds in his June 2 city manager report.

The South Woodland Drive community, with the assistance of housing nonprofit Neighborworks Montana, has spent more than a year trying to secure funding necessary to hook into the city’s water and sewer in an effort to replace its aging septic system.

The 41-home community has 21 septic and drain field systems that were installed in 1973 that are at the end of their useful lifetime, according to a letter the community submitted to the city.

Failing septic systems pose environmental and public health risks as untreated sewage can seep out of tanks, potentially releasing pathogens into groundwater or surface water, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Morning Star, along with the neighboring community Green Acres Cooperative, applied for federal Community Development Block Grant money last year to fund the infrastructure project, but were passed over owing to the large pool of applications, according to Danielle Maiden, cooperative housing director for Neighborworks.

Upgrading both communities’ infrastructure at the same time makes the most financial and logistical sense, Maiden said, but would require more than $2 million.

The communities will be applying for the federal grants again this year with the help of the city. Kalispell City Council in May agreed to sponsor the neighborhoods’ grant applications.

The Montana Coal Endowment Program provides funding assistance for drinking water, wastewater, solid waste and other projects using money from revenues earned on interest from Coal Severance Taxes, according to the program’s website.

Kalispell received the largest possible grant award on behalf of Morning Star, and the funds can be used for engineering designs and inspection, surveying or geotechnical, and construction costs, among other uses.

Reporter Adrian Knowler can be reached at 758-4407 or aknowler@dailyinterlake.com.