Not a tree left standing. That was predictable, never the less it is a visual shock and heartbreaking. The beautiful grove that greeted travelers at the entrance to Whitefish, the busy corner of Montana 40 and Highway 93, is gone forever. Gone in the blink of an eye, overnight it seems; the five acre forest that formed a welcoming salute on the way into town was cleared to the bare ground.
We were holding out hope that it might be otherwise; that a developer with vision would see the value in this unique site, that the trees could blend harmoniously with commercial offices or stores. What do you suppose we will see instead? Another car lot, a gas station and casino? Sadly, it will never be what it could have been. As far as I’m concerned this clear example of the lack of imagination and aesthetics of most Flathead Valley developers. The modus operandi rampant across the valley seems to be how quickly can we ruin the place. That mindset is our great loss in the long run. When we’ve despoiled this valley, the only thing left to wonder will be Glacier Park — already greatly stressed.
Who’s to blame? All of us. We’re too busy to pay attention, or simply lounging in complacency, deceiving ourselves into thinking that our valley is big enough that it will never get all filled up. Drive to Kalispell. It’s happening before our eyes.
On the other hand, I can’t help but discount our trio of myopic County Commissioners, who will certainly go down as the failed leaders that could have made a difference, assumed a measure of control to manage growth for the longterm betterment. Instead they unerringly chose the path of least resistance — the free for all.
Unfortunately, our own Whitefish City Council should consider their failure. We are letting developers control the aesthetics of our town when we should be taking charge; growing our town for the public good, and especially for future citizens who will be thankful for a beautiful place to call home.
Leo Keane, Whitefish