Commissioners were clearly torn Tuesday about how to address more than $600,000 worth of requests from eight entities with a total of $214,000 grant money.

Commissioner Bill Murdock said he thought all the projects were worthy and wanted to “spread the money around” but he added, “Kids are important.”

The projects garnering the bulk of the money were proposed by schools – Anderson southwest of Bozeman, Monforton northwest of the city and Manhattan schools all requested funds to build pedestrian paths and sidewalks that, proponents said Tuesday, will keep children safe.

Murdock, supporting a proposal for exterior work and landscaping for the Three Forks Historical Society Depot Museum, also said commissioners in the past have neglected historic preservation projects allowed by the grant.

Commissioner Joe Skinner, agreeing that the sidewalk projects were important, disagreed that the museum should receive a chunk of the pot. Commissioners have supported Three Forks in its efforts to build a trail system in the past, and Skinner said other communities should have a shot at the grant money.

Several people spoke in support of their proposed projects. But when commissioners began to discuss reducing a $40,000 request to complete a Bozeman bike and pedestrian path along Oak Street between Seventh and Rouse avenues, three county and Bozeman employees asked them to reconsider.

Significantly reducing the grant money for the project could jeopardize it in its totality, said Ron Dingman, Bozeman director of parks, recreation and cemetery departments. City commissioners have already committed their share of the funding and “are poised to start” building, he said. Without the full funding, that money could get reallocated.

“I think it will be money well spent, reducing the cost of the project by partnering with the city,” he added.

The commissioners approved 2-1 with Skinner opposing only $14,000 for the Oak Street project. In addition to the sidewalk and path projects, they approved $10,000 to complete a West Yellowstone downtown beautification project and $50,000 for the Three Forks depot museum.

Commissioners chose not to provide any CTEP money to the ongoing Three Forks trails project, and the Pioneer Museum withdrew its application for funding.

Jodi Hausen can be reached at or 582-2630.