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Bozeman mayor hosts first-of-its-kind State of the City address

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Posted at 7:43 PM, Mar 18, 2024

BOZEMAN — In a first for Bozeman, Mayor Terry Cunningham held his State of the City address outside of City Hall. In his first of two addresses, he touched on topics such as homelessness, growth, and sustainability.

“There weren't any subdivisions 50 years ago,” says Bozeman Resident Jack Jelinski.

Jelinski has been a Bozeman resident for over 50 years. He like many residents has seen changes in the city, so he came to listen to Cunningham's State of the City.

“I got to be honest with you, I was surprised at how complete his presentation was,” says Jelinski.

Growth and housing are one of Cunningham’s priorities. He says that the city has plans for around 1,000 units of affordable housing in the pipeline with the city’s new ordinance.

“Awards deed restricted long-term affordability with some density bonuses,” says Cunningham.

Angie Kociolek moved to Bozeman in 1995 and is a member of the Bozeman Tree Coalition. She wants the city to keep the environment in mind as the city continues to grow.

“Echoing the concerns in the community about how many trees are being lost as we continue to grow. But housing and trees can coexist. So I think it's a step in the right direction,” says Kociolek.

Cunningham also addressed residents' concerns with homelessness as it continues to increase. He says the urban camping ordinance is working but wants to focus on the housing-first model.

“Transitional housing, that could involve the purchase of a hotel or motel. We also need more elements like the housing first village,” says Cunningham.

On public safety, Cunningham addressed the need for more emergency services as the city finishes the new Fire Station 2 with the potential for a fourth fire station in the coming years. He also talked about hiring more police officers to handle the increase in cases.

“We are seeing more fentanyl-related cases and more violent cases and they have doubled in the seven-year period. Still, Bozeman is still the safest large community in Montana,” says Cunningham.

Residents and city leaders say they want trust and transparency. Residents on Monday seemed happy with the outcome.

“I think continual communication. It may not always be easy and may not always be comfortable, but it's important to show up and to keep talking about the things that are important,” says Kociolek.

The second State of the City address will take place on Wednesday night at Fire Station 3 at 6:00 in the evening.