For the past decade, the American Planning Association has been handing out America’s Great Places Awards and for the first time ever, Missoula is on the list. Missoula was one of five neighborhoods to win the award this year, Linda McCarthy from the Downtown Missoula Partnership says it’s a first for Montana too.

"It's the first time any community in the state of Montana has won a "Great Neighborhood Award," McCarthy said. "It's a very high-level award given only once a year to only a handful of communities. It really speaks to our downtown community being a great place to live, work and play."

American Planning Association President Cynthia Bowen says three things helped identify Missoula as a “great Neighborhood.” The first of which is a 2013 plan to reduce carbon emissions by 2020.

"The second thing that we liked is that they are trying to move away from an auto-dominated downtown to ensure that some of these streets are then narrowed so that they could widen the sidewalks and provide accessible curb cut, there's also a very strong connection with the bus system," Bowen said.

The third element Bowen mentioned was the public-private partnership involved in the creation of the new Missoula Art Park. According to McCarthy the Missoula Downtown master plan will be updated next year, and they are currently raising the $400,000 needed to update the plan.

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