Bill on hold in Helena has golfers relieved, students worried
A bill tabled in committee has a long list of projects, including funding a proposed expansion to the University of Montana’s Missoula College.
The $29 million allotted in House Bill 5, the long-range building appropriations, would turn the current UM Golf Course into a home for Missoula College.
Some Missoulians were pleased the bill got put to rest for now; they don’t want to see the golf course sacrificed for the expansion.
But some UM students said legislators need to take a stand for education.
Golfers teed up Thursday with confidence at the UM course, knowing their favorite green is safe for now.
University District resident Ian Lange said legislators made the right decision when they tabled HB 5.
“My first reaction was finally some people are listening in the senate to the people of Missoula,” Lange said.
For Lange and many other golf course supports it’s about preserving open space. “We have developed open space here and so to destroy these facilities when the planning went on for years to put this facility out at the Fort doesn't make any economic sense.”
Lange’s not alone. Many golf course supporters support the Missoula College expansion; they’d like to see it at Fort Missoula. But that doesn't work for Missoula College students like Michael Higgins.
“That doesn't make sense to me because it’s so far away,” said Higgins. “One of the greatest things about going to school at the Missoula College is that it is on a united front with the mountain campus.”
Higgins said it doesn't matter how the legislature funds it they just need to find a way to bring that $29 million to the Missoula College.
Higgins said facilities at the current campus on South Avenue aren’t up to par. “We're teaching energy technology classes in rooms that aren't energy efficient.”
With about two weeks left in the legislative session Higgins is hopeful.
“It's a good thing to do; it's the right thing to do. And I really think that if the house looked at it they would see it.”
But so is Lange.
“I hope they fund it but they don't fund it to put it here.”
In the end legislators have the final call on what to fund.
But the Montana University System Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian is hopeful the projects will be funded.
“We are sensing that when this session ends, there will be a JOBS bill that will include construction projects for the Montana University System. There are still plenty of days left in the session to get the JOBS bill passed.”