KALISPELL, Mont. - Growth is usually good, but some residents of a small Montana town on Flathead Lake are worried an influx of construction and new businesses are coming at the cost of its small town charm.
Lakeside, is on the west shore of Flathead Lake, about 20 minutes south of Kalispell.
NBC Montana tracked a huge growth there in the past year. More than a dozen people have joined the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce. There is a brand new town center and over seven new restaurants. Lakeside also has a new medical center, pharmacy, and a fitness center has also just opened up.
Seven years ago, Andra Townsley opened up the Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside. This year, she opened up two new restaurants, the Farmhouse which serves breakfast and lunch and a dinner sports bar called Seven.
Townsley explained to NBC Montana why now?
"To see a small town kind of start to take flight we thought that it was really important to see it done well and see it done with respect and integrity keeping that small town feel. You know, we've seen other small towns where big businesses come in and kind of changes the character and we didn't want that," Townsley said.
But, Townsley isn't the only one setting up shop. The Docks is now opening up as Scottibellies Pizza. And, it's not only the restaurants. Kat's Korner is a boutique that opened up this summer. The store sells clothing and jewelry.
David Fetveit from the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce says opening up these stores means a lot to Lakeside residents.
"All these new businesses everything from the restaurants to the medical clinic, the fitness center some of these things, locals and visitors were leaving the area to enjoy those types of benefits. Now, we don't have to leave," Fetveit said.
However, residents fear that the small town of Lakeside might not stay so small with the business growth. Fetveit is not worried.
"We've got a long way to go before we have any of those types of concerns," Fetveit said.
"We want people to be able to come to Lakeside and say ‘where am I going to eat' and not just 'I want to go to tamarack tonight.'They have a variety of places to choose from so when we heard Scottibellies was going in, we were thrilled," Townsley said.
More businesses mean more people and Townsley says the more the merrier.
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