Missoula County commissioners set the stage for spring construction of Fort Missoula Regional Park on Tuesday, approving 23 bids and several other items valued at more than $13 million.
Donna Gaukler, director of Missoula Parks and Recreation, said the phase-1 funding covers the western half of the 156-acre park and includes 11 multi-use sports fields, one artificial turf field, an events plaza and a large pavilion.
The project’s first phase also includes a picnic shelter, landscaping, historic interpretation and access roads, among other items. The phase-1 budget is set at $16.2 million.
“With the exception of a specialty synthetic turf provider, all bids were awarded to local businesses,” said Gaukler. “The park will be a destination for all area residents, as well as guests.”
Voters approved the $42 million County Parks and Trails Bond in 2014. Funding from the general obligation bond covers the park’s development, along with 10 new or improved city playgrounds and a new trails program for Missoula County.
With construction set to begin this spring, the city aims to host limited events at the facility this fall. Full completion of phase 1 is expected by next April.
Gaukler said city and county staff will work with the design team to further refine the project’s second phase. That project will cover the park’s eastern half and is expected to begin in October, bringing additional trails, seven softball fields, a playground and a dog park, among other items.
“With the completion of the regional park in 2017, we look forward to welcoming a wide variety of opportunities that will enhance our recreation economy,” said Commissioner Cola Rowley. “The county, in partnership with city staff, worked diligently to ensure that every dollar spent will provide long-term, community-wide benefits.”
Jackson Contractor Group won the construction management contract for the project last July. The firm is working with DJ&A Engineers of Missoula, OZ Architects of Missoula, The Land Group and city and county parks staff in designing and scoping the project.
Supporters of the project believe the new park will help leverage millions of dollars in new state and federal funding and increase the number of regional visitors. The sporting tournaments alone could generate up to $1 million per event, they believe.
The Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana said increased visitor spending would also have a positive economic impact on Missoula’s food, accommodations, arts, entertainment and retail sectors.
For more information on the project, visit www.missoulaparksandtrails.org.