Sadly, we have to report that the Great Falls Public School District, with a vote of 7 to 0, effectively decided to demolish the historic Hi School Store (Campfire building) at 1925 2nd Avenue South to make room for a small surface parking lot. With unanimous support of your elected school board trustees, the district’s administration can execute the buy-sell agreement dated 1-17-18 for $100,000 and move forward with their ill-advised attempt to solve the parking problem at Great Falls High School. (see my article, “Solutions Anyone”)


According to Superintendent Lacey, “Given the parking issues at GFHS, GFPS will continue to look for other properties to purchase” Tammy’s Top Ten on Tuesday Feb 20, 2018. I guess you had better hope your neighbor doesn’t sell his property to the District if you don’t want a parking lot next door.

“According to Superintendent Lacey, “Given the parking issues at GFHS, GFPS will continue to look for other properties to purchase” Tammy’s Top Ten on Tuesday Feb 20, 2018. I guess you had better hope your neighbor doesn’t sell his property to the District if you don’t want a parking lot next door.”

Since the property is zoned R-3 Single Family Residential it will have to be rezoned to allow a parking lot, as would all future residential properties purchased by the District. This would certainly seem to follow the accepted definition of ‘spot zoning’, which has been held to be illegal in most places. Would this be something the City Commission would be likely to do? Admittedly, the process to rezone the property is just starting and it has many hurdles to clear.

How will this, and other off-campus mini parking lots be paid for? Again, Lacey says; “Bond proceeds will be used for this purchase as well as any related improvements to it”; Tammy’s Top Ten on Tuesday Feb 20, 2018.

Does the District have a plan “B”?

On March 6th, 5:30PM, Lacey will make a presentation to the City Commission Work Session detailing why the school district would like to acquire approximately 1/3 of Kranz Park; almost 1 acre of park land, for a significantly larger surface parking lot. Maybe time for a little Joni Mitchell; “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. Again, a zoning issue, an environmental issue and an economic issue.

Judging from past discussions led by previous Park and Recreation Director Joe Petrella, Kranz Park is not, and never will be, on the auction block. So it would seem there will be an uphill slog for the school district’s desired acquisition of Kranz Park. So much for plan “B”.

Unfortunately, the school district is steadfast in its rejection of structured parking as a solution to the parking problem at Great Falls High School.

Please let the GFPS School Board trustees know how you feel by sending them an email. Your single email will reach all seven board members.

And please weigh in on the E-City Beat Poll right now:

[poll id=”10″]



Philip M. Faccenda
Philip M. Faccendahttp://www.straymoose.com
Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.


  1. Pave over Kranz park and sell parking passes, use the funds generated to support the parks. Everyone wins, except the contractors that would not get the demolition contract for the tear down.

    The citizens really need to get out in opposition to the rezoning request. Make the NEW school board solve the real problem

        • Guy, In short, the national average construction cost for structured parking is $13K to $18K per parking stall. In Denver it is $16K. I think a round number for Great Falls would be $15K. The GFHS campus is about 300 spaces short. That would be about $5M. If you take the cost of acquisition of properties and construction of small surface lots, you would probably have $3M for 300 spaces. As a related issue, the GFPS Tech Council overwhelmingly endorsed my proposal to build a New CTE on the existing 20th parking lot since it could be built at the lower elevation of 5th Ave South and include parking, or a STEM facility above. If we are really building for the future we need to have a better plan to allow building pads available and not sacrifice property and historic values for surface parking.

          • So, in summary, their surface parking plan could cost 3 million, any the multi-level structure could cost 5 million. Why is the 5 million dollar option better?

  2. Could they purchase a property off site and have the students and faculty park there then run a shuttle every 15 min. There are a lot of open fields, or use the mall parking lot, tons of space there. Why go through the trouble, and controversy of buying old buildings and tearing them down.

  3. If Great Falls High plans on continuing to have a football team, the practice field is necessary. There are at least 3 teams practicing at the same time. Freshman, sophomores, and JV/Varsity. I understand parking is an issue, but paving over the practice field is only an option for those who are not interested in supporting football. In my opinion, we just spent a lot of money getting turf, let’s not throw away the top reason for getting it……..which is football.

    • Wrong Christy, The District installed artificial turf in the Stadium so the teams could practice there. They also can practice at Paris, which they already do. We all value the football program at GFH, so why not make it easier for people attending games to conveniently find a place to park, instead of in the neighbor’s driveway.

  4. Guy, The $5M provides a better planning solution because of the following:
    It considers the longer view of issues the school is likely to face in the future, additional building Pads for future facility needs, ie the 20th Street parking lot and the South Campus parking lot.

    It preserves the open space and landscaping of the northeast corner of the original historic
    campus. (something that the State Historic Commission has deemed important)

    It’s provides for consolidation of parking which has a direct bearing on pedestrian traffic that
    addresses security issues and control points.

    It restores the original primary entrance to the school and decreases entry at the 1963 east
    addition and the neighborhood east of the school.

    It could integrate the CTE and the STEM spaces for a better curriculum interdisciplinary model.

    It would be more environmentally friendly by eliminating Heat Sinks caused by surface parking

    It would reduce maintenance costs, snow removal, refuse retrieval, resurfacing and striping.

    The ZONING on the campus (Practice Field) would not have to change.

    Tennis courts on top of a 3 level parking structure would be a real bonus and could be covered
    heated for year round practice.

    A softball field at Kranz Park would also be a bonus for the school and neighborhood children in
    the Summer.

    Hope that helps make the case for structured parking and we will show how the additional $2M can be provided at no additional cost to the District.


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