Plan to create Missoula College building at golf course creates debate
Debate over creating a new Missoula College building on the University of Montana south campus is bubbling up.
The old debate got fresh attention when details of a new legislative jobs bill came out.
The $32 million project would be the first new academic building on site.
It's contentious because it's home to athletic fields and the golf course.
It's debatable because there's another site location near Big Sky High School, and because Missoula college students want a new home.
Researcher Sally Peterson said developing the golf course and athletic fields goes against the intent of the land's original benefactors.
She has researched donor archives dating back close to 100 years.
Donors gave money specifically for athletics, said Peterson.
"I feel the intent of that land to remain as athletic fields is being violated."
Supporters of the golf course point to the course's 30 some employees who would lose their jobs, and the tens of thousands of dollars lost in event revenue and tourist dollars if the fields disappeared.
But the University of Montana's Peggy Kuhr said, "every tract in these legal deeds states that it should be for the use and benefit and convenience of the university."
Opponents said the future need is more on line learning and less bricks and mortar.
One study said the Missoula College Building belongs on the west side, where industrial arts students study.
Supporters said the location would better serve all students.
That's a big debate.
Missoula College student Jennifer Turner favors that location.
"It's set outside the city," said Turner, "I just think there's more access."
Other students want to be closer to the University of Montana's mountain campus.
Missoula College student Tim Chester said the proximity to the main campus would be easier for him.