As with many of the residents of Whitefish, I recently received a mailer from Tim Grattan explaining his concern for many of the decisions the Whitefish City Council has made over the past few years. I'm writing to say I agree with him and appreciate the time and money he obviously spent to get this mailer out to the citizens of our town.
He did not make any wild accusations but merely pointed out those actions of councilor Frank Sweeney, the only incumbent running for council in this election. In reading what Tim had to say, I am impressed by how he backed up his statements by quoting from the specific meetings where councilor Sweeney made his statements or cast his votes.
If there is one citizen of Whitefish we should listen to on issues such as this, I would think it should be Tim Grattan. It's understandable that those of you who were not residents of Whitefish for the decades of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, when Tim was more active in the development of Whitefish, or for those of you who may not have even been born back then, may not know just who Tim Grattan is.
You should know that Tim Grattan has interacted closely with the city councils of Whitefish for well over one-third of the time since Whitefish was chartered as a city in 1905. He has worked closely with dozens and dozens of city councilors over the decades. Who better to judge who the best candidates for council are than someone like Tim?
For those who do not know him, Tim was the one who put Whitefish on the map by building the Grouse Mountain Lodge and Convention Center in 1985. How much business and revenue has that lodge brought into our town in the past 24 years?
Tim also was responsible for the development of Grouse Mountain and Grouse Mountain Estates in the city, and of the Lion Mountain subdivision just outside the city. He also has served many years on the board of directors of Winter Sports Inc., working to make the Big Mountain ski area among the best in the country.
To further document hard facts in establishing what Tim has done for Whitefish, I did a little checking of the property tax records and have determined that the Grouse Mountain developments have contributed more than $8.5 million in property taxes over just the past 15 years alone. The city of Whitefish has benefited greatly from those revenues, as a significant part of those dollars came directly to the city through the general fund levy, SID assessments or through the tax increment financing (TIF) district. The streets in your neighborhood may have been rebuilt with revenues stemming from Grouse Mountain.
On top of that, Tim, together with his wife Darlene, graciously contributed the land for the Whitefish Lake South Golf Course, and he actually constructed the third nine holes before the Whitefish Lake Golf Association took possession. The Golf Association later added the fourth nine, bringing the total to 36 holes of the best golf in all of Montana.
This gift to the community has allowed our community to have two wonderful courses in our little town. As a direct result of their giving back to our community in this way, Whitefish has been for nearly two decades the only city in the entire state of Montana with a 36-hole golf course open to the public.
As with many in our town, I was not even sure who was running for city council in the upcoming election, but I definitely wanted to see positive change. Tim, I and this community thank for your mailer that introduced us to the candidates, but most of all, thanks for everything you have done for Whitefish over the years in dedicating your life to help make this community the wonderful town we live in today.
By the way, Tim was born in the Flathead of humble beginnings and eventually chose Whitefish as the community in which he and his wife would live and raise their family, just like many others have done. He has contributed greatly in keeping Whitefish unique with its special character and flavor, and in making this a better community in which to live and play, unlike others who have come to town and are apparently striving to make Whitefish just like everything they left behind when they moved here.
Jerry Hanson is a third-generation resident of Whitefish and a former Whitefish City-County Planning Board member and former Whitefish City Councilor.