GREAT FALLS — Great Falls civic leaders are celebrating a new business coming to Great Falls that could be the key to connecting two major attractions, as Independence Bank plans to open near the south end of the 10th Street Bridge.
The bank plans to construct a three story building with a coffee shop, and is working on a land-swap with the city; Planning Board members unanimously approved the project at a meeting on Tuesday.
The project involves the city acquiring a strip of land from Independence Bank that runs along the Missouri River to build a future connection to the River's Edge Trail in partnership with the River’s Edge Trail Foundation and Preservation Cascade, Inc. In exchange, Independence Bank will acquire a portion of the city's land for future development and a parking lot.
Tamariel Christopher of Independence Bank said in an email to MTN News: “Independence Bank is excited to support the further development of The River’s Edge Trail, we believe the Trail to be an integral part of the Great Falls community and want to foster its growth. As a Community Bank we place a heavy emphasis on supporting our local communities and this land swap helps to achieve that goal.”
The River's Edge Trail Foundation has been working for years to reroute the trail around the city, making it safer for pedestrians. The new route will connect to the nearly-finished south end of the historic 10th Street Bridge near the Independence Bank.
Officials with both Preservation Cascade, Inc. and the Foundation told MTN News they are pleased to see years of work moving forward.
“The guy who founded it (River’s Edge Trail) Doug Wicks who died a few years ago- his dream too was to incorporate the bridge into the trail that was our dream from the beginning,” said Arlyne Reichert, President of Preservation Cascade, Inc. “So that people could go to the north side of the river to the south side of the river safely."
If all goes as planned, the bridge will be fully open to pedestrians wanting to explore the area and Reichert says the Luminaria Walk could possibly be held there this year as well to celebrate the bridge’s 101st birthday.
Great Falls City Commissioners will see preliminary information and set a public hearing on the 16th. They'll present the drafts and take public comment on April 6th. Click here to see the preliminary draft of the project (PDF).