Location: From South Avenue West to Southwest Higgins (north-south) and from Russell Street to South Higgins (west-east)
Features: Missoula County Fairgrounds, YMCA, UM College of Technology, Splash Montana
Public Schools: Lewis & Clark Elementary, Russell Elementary, Sentinel High School
Parks: Cattail Corner, Elms, Pattee Creek, Playfair, Spartan
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A Place to Play, A Place to Live
Lewis and Clark Neighborhood Offers Recreational and Family-Oriented Feel
By Greg Martin for Real Estate Marketplace
Taylar Robbins/ For Real Estate Marketplace
One of the centers of the Lewis and Clark neighborhood, Bancroft Street will be getting bike lanes this summer, linking South Avenue and Southwest Higgins
One of the most playful areas in Missoula would have to be the Lewis and Clark neighborhood.
South on Russell Street past Malfunction Junction, the western edge of the neighborhood includes the fairgrounds, the YMCA and Russell Elementary, where some genuine, quality fun is routinely had. And as popular places of enjoyment as they are, they’re hardly the sum of recreational activity in the neighborhood.
Down the middle of Lewis and Clark might well be local Missoulians’ fun center - Bancroft Street. Turning south on Bancroft from South Street, you pass Sentinel High School and its open Spartan Park and then right into the nexus of summer playtime activity with Playfair Park and Splash Montana. Tennis Courts, soccer fields, the Clawson Little League Complex, volleyball courts, inline hockey and skating are all options for recreating in addition to those now famous water slides and swimming pool.
To make the trip down Bancroft easier for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers, the City of Missoula will be putting in bike lanes all down Bancroft from South Street to SW Higgins Street. Phil Smith, Program Manager for the City’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Program said the move was in response to repeated requests from area residents – both pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Since it is a recreational destination zone, they wanted a safe and convenient way of getting there,” he said.
Lewis and Clark Neighborhood Community Forum Representative Greg Gullickson said the city actively sought their input before finalizing the project and presented it to the neighborhood to get their approval. With the neighborhood’s blessing, the city council passed it unanimously.
“That’s the kind of thing I like to see happen,” Gullickson said of the cooperative process.
The lanes will provide a connecting path between SW Higgins Street and South Street, both of which already have bike lanes.
“It’ll be one nice link in the bike lane system,” Smith said.
It’s more than just fun and games in Lewis and Clark. People live there. The neighborhood is home to a great number of home owners, where their well-kept, nice but not fancy houses can be found on Fairview, Benton, Mary, and Agnes Avenues. But there are also numerous apartment buildings including Parkside Village, Birchwood Meadows, and Wildflower Apartments.
Shelley and Bryan Barrett-Catton and their two children live just a half a block from Lewis and Clark Elementary School. Shelley said the ease of mobility in such a centralized location, with the plentiful sidewalks and bus bike access, is one of the main reasons they like living in Lewis and Clark.
“We love the neighborhood,” she said, “partly because it lets us get by with one car. We have more independence in getting anywhere around town easily and safely,” she said.
As a sign of how Missoula has grown, the open fields that make up a lot of the area between Malfunction Junction and Southwest Higgins Avenue served as the outer edges of early Missoula. In fact, Missoula’s first airport is where Sentinel High and Playfair Park are today. Gullickson said many who live there have been part of the neighborhood for a long time and feel comfortable there, something he keeps in mind working in the neighborhood council.
“The main focus of our council is to keep the integrity of our established neighborhood,” he said.
Greg Martin is a freelance writer for the Missoulian Advertising Department.