First, the good news about Brennan’s Wave: The $320,000 needed to build the proposed Clark Fork River whitewater park in the heart of Missoula is ready and waiting to be spent. The Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA) has pledged $175,000, and the rest comes from “everyone from Joe Kayaker who drives a beat-up Subaru with a rack on top to some of our local businesses,” says Trent Baker, a former president of the Missoula Whitewater Association who’s helping guide the project. “From a financial perspective, it’s looking good.”
Now, the bad news: The handful of permits required have yet to be secured. And there’s a June 30 deadline looming that requires the MRA to either commit the funds or divert them to another project if the MRA board can’t count on the Wave’s permits being issued. Ellen Buchanan, director of the MRA, says the board has to be sure the project will ultimately go through in order to sign an agreement before the deadline, created by the “sunset” date of the tax increment district that MRA’s funding comes from.
“The MRA board solidly wants this project to happen, but if we get to June and still haven’t even gotten the county permit, how convinced will the board be?” Buchanan asks. She isn’t sure what the answer is, so she’s hoping the permits come through in time.
Baker and Brennan’s Wave engineers have been working with the county to secure a 310 permit, and Baker says the final application—with additional information the county has requested over the past few months—will be submitted by April’s end. Marnie McClain, deputy county attorney, says permit requests typically are decided within 60 days, which could slip Brennan’s Wave in just before the MRA’s deadline, though three other city and state permits remain outstanding. The MRA deadline, McClain says, doesn’t really change anything from her perspective.
“It’s not an issue for us where you get your money,” she says. “That’s their issue-slash-dilemma.”
Baker says no matter what, they’re going to keep at it: “Our take all along has been if that money disappeared we’d just keep fund-raising. This is a good project and we’re not giving up on the thing.”