Mayor John Engen appeared on KGVO Radio’s Friday Talk Back program during the monthly City Talk segment.

Mayor Engen was accompanied by City of Missoula’s Communications Director Ginny Merriam.

Engen was asked by a listener about the new insurance policy offered by the Missoula Water Company, the municipally owned water system that would help to pay for repairs to the water line that runs from a residence to the water main in the street. Engen said the new policy is part of the ongoing improvements to the water system

“Now with two years of ownership of the system, we’re continuing to refine policies,” said Mayor Engen. “We have a laundry list of things we’d like to do with the system that will benefit the rate payers. This residential line insurance is a first step. The program was in place and its relatively inexpensive and not something we need to reinvent in terms of internal administration.”

Engen was also asked about coordination between city agencies regarding street construction and water line repairs.

“We are coordinating remarkably well between the street department, wastewater, water and our storm water system in doing our best to insure that if we’re in the street, we’re in the street once,” he said. “We’re taking care of all that infrastructure and then we’re not jeopardizing that asphalt by cutting and patching over time, which has been a bid deal over time.”

Engen and Merriam were both asked about the homeless camp that exists under the Reserve Street Bridge. They said the confusing jurisdictional issues have been addressed. Merriam said great progress is being made.

“It’s easy to drive over that bridge and think nobody’s doing anything about that,” said Merriam. “But, in truth there are seven different agencies working with people who are in that area all through the summer. In fact, this summer they have been able to find housing for 10 of those people.”

Merriam warned what might happen if all the residents of that camp were forced out at once.

“One of the things that I just learned in the past few weeks is that if you went to these camps and told people they had to leave, they would be all over the place,” she said. “Right now, all the people working with them know where to find them. They can get a housing voucher for somebody, they get word about where they can get a birth certificate or a social security card, and that know right where to find them.”

Engen agreed on that principle.

“Actually, knowing where folks are and knowing that we can keep an eye on them and knowing that we can chip away at the problem,” he said. “There are a lot worse places where we could have concentrated and homeless.”

Engen has committed to making more appearances on the City Talk editions of Talk Back in the future.

See the entire interview on the KGVO Facebook page.