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Billings Parks and Rec asking City Council for a $142 million bond to upgrade parks, trails, and a rec facility



Billings, Montana – At City Council, the Billings Parks and Recreation Department is requesting a $142 million bond. A recreation facility as well as upgrades to numerous parks and trails would be included in the bond.

“Basically, the bond amount that we’re looking at right now would be a ask of $142 million dollars,” Director of Parks and Recreation for Billings Mike Pigg said. “Basically, that looks like $161- $164 for the average median house in Billings. I think $250,000 home value is what the median is.”

The bond will be put before voters in November if City Council authorizes it this summer.

Pigg claimed that numerous improvements, such as a community center, loop trail, pickleball courts, and picnic shelters at Castle Rock Park, would be funded by the bond. The North Park community center would be renovated to create more functional space. He claimed that North Park would also get new bathrooms and a playground.

South Park Pool would also be restored.

“That’s over 100-year-old pool,” he said. “We’re still using it. That would get a brand-new facility: new pool, new pool house. With kind-of a community center there too, so we could hold rec programs there. And also, the neighborhood could use it as a community center.”

New community centers would also be built in Pioneer and Centennial Parks.

The Stagecoach Trail close to Zimmerman would be one of many pathways that would be constructed.

The recreation complex next to Amend Park would be built with the majority of the bond money. A competitive and recreational pool, ice, basketball courts, a work out area, and rental spaces would all be part of the recreation facility.

He claimed that enhancing parks and pathways increases the value of residences and the city while also enhancing public safety.

“It gets people outside- away from the TV, away from the phone, away from the computer games,” he said. “We’re actually out, playing frisbee, whatever that is. Utilizing the playgrounds, utilizing the splash pads. Using the picnic shelters. Having a picnic with your family and friends. But, then, as more and more people come to the park, you start to build that sense of community. And you get to know your neighbors from that park. When I was raised, there was always some other mom watching everything I did and I could never do anything wrong. Well, that’s what we want to get back to.”

“We realize it’s a very big ask,” he added. “It’s not something we’ve taken lightly. But, the City of Billings hasn’t developed a park since 1988. That’s when they started Castle Rock Park. The population of Billings has doubled in that time. And we haven’t built any community parks. We haven’t even really finished the community parks we started. The last community park that we finished was Rose Park, and that was back in the 1960’s.”

At City Hall (220 N. 27th Street, Billings), you can attend the city council meeting beginning at 5:30. You can use Zoom to join the meeting as well.

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