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Helena City Commission approves Civic Center reorganization

Posted at 10:19 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 00:19:14-04

On Monday evening, a Helena City Commission hearing was held to discuss and finalize changes to the Helena Civic Center reorganization.

Local officials and other members of the city testified before the City Commissioners and Helena residents.

Members of the Civic Center board and the Helena Symphony both testified, providing their viewpoints that neither of the two were capable to do the job.

The City Commission discussed whether the Civic Center should be moved from the Community Facilities Department to the newly renamed Parks, Recreation and Open Lands Department.

Helena city manager Ana Cortez said putting the Civic Center under Parks and Recreation would give the facility more attention. She said there is not currently a director for the Community Facilities Department, so the Civic Center’s manager, Byron Dike, had been reporting directly to her.

“Now the Civic Center staff, the manager, is part of a group of creative individuals who operate a number of programs – it’s parks, it’s recreation, it’s open lands, it’s arts, it’s all of that – versus being in a vacuum under the city manager’s office,” she said.

Cortez said the change in responsibility wouldn’t mean any operational differences for the public or the Civic Center’s clients. She said staff will continue to do what is needed for the facility, just as before.

Members of the Civic Center made it clear that no one else is qualified to make financial decisions without the Helena Civic Center's consent and that adding Parks and Recreation into the equation, would only blur the lines of communication and muddle tourists.

Judy Kline, Chair of the Civic Center Advisory Board, read a statement stating, “The Civic Center Board is feeling that our recommendations have been discounted, marginalized, and disrespected, of late.”

Moments later, the City Commission passed the ordinance on a unanimous vote, moving the Community Facilities Department to the newly renamed Parks, Recreation and Open Lands Department.

City Commissioner, Kali Wicks, spoke before the board about the controversial issue presented by members of the Civic Center stating, “The Civic Center is something that is a jewel for Helena and it is something that I will continue to fight for. But I do want to express that I was very disappointed in the way that this board conducted itself...and I am saddened at the lack of willingness to collaborate, to partner, and to innovate to make sure that the Civic Center is a part of Helena History...for all time.”