Editors note: The following email was sent by Montanans Opposing Big Sky Country National Heritage Area leader Rae Grulkowski to all five Great Falls City Commissioners and to E-City Beat on Wednesday.
Mr. Mayor and Commissioners:
Regarding your discussion at the end of meeting of August 3, stating the only reason Montanans oppose a National Heritage Area being private property rights – you deeply misspoke.
To further believe the community would believe the City Commission in interpreting what a National Heritage Area is – Cascade and Chouteau County community members have educated themselves because the entities pursuing designation have not come forward to address their concerns. Additionally, City Commissioners meetings fall under Open Meeting protocol and anyone may speak during Public Comment.
Lastly, yes, there certainly have been City community members speaking of their opposition to establishing an NHA.
If elected officials would simply “listen” when the people they serve are speaking, emotional disgruntlement could be alleviated and progress made toward mutual agreements.
Big Sky Country National Heritage Area, Inc. is completely capable of operating as a private entity, accomplishing City goals, WITHOUT federally designating private property (which entails more than “private property” issues), thus eliminating animosity forever in our community. Think outside your box.
From comments heard, I do not believe many of you read my letter to you, dated 6-08-2021. Please do so. This is not a dead issue.
The Feasibility Study is to be a joint study. The guidelines for the Feasibility Study and statements of engaging community interests are found in the National Park Service Feasibility Study Guidelines and is mentioned in my letter, copied the City Commissioners, dated 7-21-2021, requesting to establish community wide, well-advertised information meetings.
A Feasibility Study is just that – a study to discover feasibility . . . or not. It does not mean pursuit at any costs.
Our discoveries and input (again read my letter and information in packet dated 6-8-2021) demonstrate the idea of an NHA as proposed, is not appropriate.
The private corporation you assisted in forming, is exercising their rights to closed meetings and not providing information nor interaction with the community involved.
This puts you in the position to act as hinge-pin to bring the diversity together for a successful outcome.
FOIA information gained by an inquiry into a simultaneous Kansas/Nebraska NHA effort is currently being shared on our Facebook Page.
Specific documents received demonstrate nefarious activity in establishing federal land designations, with communications containing comments such as, “Not worth our while to have public meetings until Feasibility Study is in motion because they will have to be part of that process.” Please read that again. This was written by the woman who compares to Jane Weber’s current position as Chair of BSCNHA, Inc.
Feel free to visits our Page at Montanans Opposing Big Sky Country National Heritage Area on Facebook. This social media address, you will also find in literature given to you in 6-08-2021 packet.
No need for an agenda item for a Resolution. This is not our goal with approaching the City. We know the outcome already. We request jointly orchestrated (citizen opposing, City Commissioners, BSCNHA, Inc.) well-advertised, community meetings be set in place to paint a clear picture of everyone’s concerns and credits.