Rest Area Petition Organizers Obtain Over 1,000 Signatures
August 4, 2021
The ongoing efforts by local residents to put a stop to the relocation of an MDT Rest Area from Bozeman to land off U.S. 287 in Three Forks continued last week.
A petition created against the planned Headwaters Rest Area has over 900 online and over 100 in-person signatures.
Petition creator Amy Weidinger approached the Three Forks City Council July 27, asking them to help out in any way possible.
Weidinger shared concerns with the governing body about safety due to the lack of infrastructure and emergency services and the environment for the proposed location in Broadwater County.
In April, the MDT Transportation Committee approved the design-build project provides a property exchange for the current Montana Rest Area at 19th Avenue in Bozeman.
Three Forks Mayor Sean Gifford said at last week's Council meeting they are paying a lot of money for Gallatin County police services that get pulled out of town.
"We pay a lot of money for police services that get pulled out of town," "I don't think Three Forks should be subsidizing the growth in Broadwater County," he said.
According to Gifford, there were 132 service calls in 2020 at the Bozeman Rest area.
"So that is 132 more calls for service that we can't handle out here for law enforcement," he said.
According to information provided by Bozeman Police Information Coordinator Wendy Elgen, the department was called out the rest area at the 19th Avenue Interchange a total of 99 times between January 1 and July 23, 2021.
40 of those calls were patrol checks which Elgin described as people pulling into the rest area with an officer behind them.
So far in 2021, there have been seven "suspicious," three "trespassing", three "disorderly," two "thefts", one "assault", and one "hazmat" call.
Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp said they respond at times to calls of suspicious people, suspicious activity, domestic disturbances in vehicles, welfare checks on people staying there, and a variety of other issues.
"Every once in a while, we have a more significant event there, but those have been rare. I can't say the rest area has been an ongoing problem for us, but its presence certainly does add to our call volume," he said.
Stillwater County Sheriff Chares "Chip" Kem discussed with the Voice last week the rest area in his jurisdiction between Columbus and Park City.
"Over the years, we have had everything from vehicle break-ins, thefts, and vandalism to assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, abductions, and suicides. I don't mean to imply that these incidents are a frequent occurrence," Kem said. "These are examples of the types of calls we have had over the last ten or so years. That being said, personally, I would have concerns about a rest area being that close to a residential area. Just my opinion."
The online petition can be found at http://chng.it/4Rgzsrpt7k.