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Friday, February 23, 2018

The city must make improvements to its parking lot on Merrill Avenue as part of its lease agreement with BNSF Railway.

Parking lot upgrades on the city's radar

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

The City of Glendive has a plan for upgrading the city parking lot on Merrill Avenue, but that plan may take some time to implement.

The lot is located on the south side of Merrill in the block between Towne Street and Bell Street.

“That parking lot would be nice to have done and it’s definitely on our radar, but there’s no plans in motion yet,” said Glendive Public Works Director Jack Rice. “I’m not saying it’s not going to happen, but it’s not out there in the near future.”

The city must make improvements to satisfy its lease agreement with BNSF Railway on the property. 

According to the city’s lease agreement with BNSF, they are obligated to make improvements to the lot, and do not have an unlimited amount of time in which to do so.

Mayor Jerry Jimison said the plan is to make improvements to the lot — which would include paving and landscaping — in two phases, “half this year and half next year.”

Jimison pointed out that the city has $50,000 set aside in its current budget for the project.

According to Rice, the city received a bid estimate of $100,000 to pave the lot, but that was “a couple of years ago.” He said that since that time, the cost of needed materials has increased. 

Rice also pointed out that due to the many decades of debris buried at the site from prior use, the project wouldn’t be a simple paving job.

“It needs more than just an overlay, it’d be a major construction project,” he said.

Though according to Rice, work on thework on the project isn’t imminent, Jimison said residents can expect to see work begin within the next few months.

“A lot of that depends on how much the crew can do and how much we have to hire out, but there definitely is going to be some work on it this summer,” he said.

If the city dallies in completing the project, Jimison said it “would be a possibility” that BNSF would revoke the city’s lease. 

If that were to happen, based on the lease agreement, BNSF would have to reimburse the city on a pro-rated basis for any improvements already made.

“That was our protection in agreeing to those upgrades,” Jimison said.

However, though there is no “drop dead date” for completing improvements to the lot, according to Jimison, the mayor is keen to honor the terms of the lease agreement so that downtown visitors  will have a nice place to park.

“Our plan is not to do anything to disrupt the lease,” Jimison said. “BNSF has given us what we asked for, so we’re going to carry out our part and do what we said we would.”

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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