Butte, Montana: Centerville Neighborhood
Kites, balloons and 15-foot culms of bamboo are currently mapping Butte’s Centerville Neighborhood. As Butte’s grassroots mappers work to develop new methods to overcome the area's heavy threads of industrial voltage power lines a more comprehensive map of Centerville neighborhood is to come.
As Centerville was selected as a new site for focused funding by Imagine Butte—a local affordable housing and community development collaborative—several Centerville residents are stepping forward to organize the neighborhood. Due to the weight of the current redevelopment conversation over Centerville, a community demand for new maps to describe more specific areas within the neighborhood has increased. We recently began offering in-progress kite maps atop an outdated Butte Silver Bow County GIS flyover map (2004) to support project requests ranging from the spatial directory of all vacant and blighted properties in Centerville to more recent ariel reports of the Mountain Con Mine site's reclamation progress. Due to the long period of financial neglect Centerville experienced throughout prior decades, the intensity of recent investments in the neighborhood is raising a great deal of concerns (five million dollars was spent on attempting to establish vegetation atop the MT. Con's site alone: http://mtstandard.com/news/local/article_d61d4373-5486-5ebb-8d98-db3820f0b0e0.html .
Centerville's monthly neighborhood meetings have recently become vibrant discussions of how to prioritize families most in need. Several of the neighborhood’s most energetic heritage residents have stepped forward hoping to spend their days as full-time community leaders. Mary Carol & Gene Wohlman have stood out as the neighborhood's primary spokespeople.
These events have focused a need for cataloging the deep histories remembered by Centerville’s living residents. Through archival research and interviews, we’re working to address how these memories are influencing the urgency of community participation in Centerville today.
As work in the neighborhood progresses we’ll continue to post our mapping and community action reports here.
The following is a log of the last few days of activity:
August 22nd--Imagine Butte Collaborative meets in the Flight Lab to discuss opportunities and limitations of the new Neighborhood Stabilization (NSP3) grant dollars in Centerville Neighborhood. Mathew Lippincott gives his final presentation of kite-mapping methods and shares several in-progress maps of Centerville.
August 23rd--Mathew Returns to Portland. The National Affordable Housing Network (NAHN) announces NSP3 grant in local press: http://mtstandard.com/news/local/centerville-neighborhood-among-targets-for-million-infusion/article_217dc50c-cd62-11e0-8d4a-001cc4c002e0.html
August 24th--The Butte Silver Bow County Historic Preservation Commission offers an evening walking tour of Centerville neighborhood with Bozeman architectural historian Mark Hufstetler. The historic integrity of existing homes in Centerville is discussed alongside architectural renderings of new NAHN infill housing.
August 25th--Centerville residents gather for their monthly neighborhood meeting at Centerville's Volunteer Fire Department Hall. County Commissioner Dave Palmer is absent; Centerville resident Mary Carol Wohlman leads the meeting. Mary Carol introduces Barbara Miller as a representative of the infill housing project through Habitat for Humanity and NAHN, E.Louise Larson, freelance designer volunteering to produce the Centerville Community Newsletter, and Olivia Everett, Scoria Residency Coordinator, as a representative of the ongoing grassroots mapping project in Centerville. Mary Carol presents a map recently printed for her by Mathew Lippincott and describes her color-coded labeling system for identifying fire damaged and vacant properties in the neighborhood. She then opens up the agenda to the public for any additional concerns to be addressed. Several residents request that the meeting addresses the fire hazards posed by tall weeds in abandoned and vacant lots after a recent grass fire threatened the northern portion of the neighborhood. The fire concerns are addressed first. Mary Carol agrees to contact BSB weed control for advice and to organize a weed pulling party ASAP. Barbara Miller is asked to speak to the new NAHN+Habitat housing project and announces that the groundbreaking ceremony dates may be pushed back due to the local historic preservation group’s special interests in the neighborhood. Barbara explains that the construction of the new homes will only be threatened if Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act is called upon to review all plans for infill housing receiving federal funding such as the NSP3 grant. Several residents agree the need to organize the neighborhood is paramount despite potential delays to the new housing project. Mary Carol encourages positive, proactive decisions and calls upon Louise Larson to discuss the proposed newsletter for Centerville. Louise presents several drafts of the newsletter for comment. Each four fold design includes the use of the recent kite mapping images in poster form, a feature story about the recent Habitat for Humanity sponsored renovations of the VFD Meeting Hall, a community calendar of dates for such volunteer events as the weed eradication work and junk appliance pick-up/backyard beautification, and Louise announces the newsletter will be printed and mailed by September 6th. Mary Carol inquires whether or not we might create a kite map of the area blackened by the grassfire and I agree to follow through on this work. Mary Carol concludes the meeting by announcing that a work party will be held at the fire hall the following day from 8am-2pm. Centerville resident, Linda Scott describes the lunch menu she has prepared for all volunteers attending the event.
August 26th—Centerville’s second VFD Hall Work Party attracts 13 new volunteers. NAHN’s Construction Education Manager offers to teach volunteers how to measure, cut, and install the hall’s new narrow reveal siding. The entire hall is primed and paint color samples are presented by NAHN olunteer Coordinator, Roxanne Witt. Together the volunteers choose three colors and a painting party is scheduled for the following Wednesday, August 31st at 8am.
August 27th— Mary Spangler, 5th grade teacher at Centerville’s Kennedy Elementary School calls to request that the kite mapping be integrated into her classroom this fall.