Park district projects continuing; plus golf course, dog park and tree trimming improvements
The city is nearing completion on renovations and improvements to the bath house at the Electric City Water Park and is anticipating work to be complete in time for the June 7 opening.
The bath house was one of the first major projects to be completed under the new park maintenance district and was also augmented with funds from the Community Development Block Grant program.
The restrooms in Gibson Park are next on the list for improvements as well as a trail overlay.
The restrooms in Gibson will each be getting an additional staff and sink, as well as new lighting and other improvements. The city is also looking at potentially adding a new concessions window on the side facing the playground equipment.
Steve Herrig, Park and Recreation director, told the department’s advisory board during their May 13 meeting that the project will likely be completed in the fall.
Next year, they’ll be completing improvements in Jaycee Park, to include resurfacing the tennis courts to create six pickleball courts, among other improvements.
Irrigation improvements are also underway and one full-time staffer has been hired using park district funds, which was included in the department’s three-year plan.
The park maintenance district assessment will go before the City Commission again this year, as required by law, for the assessment rate to be set. The city is expected to keep the rate at a total of $1.5 million each year over the first three years. The district has a 20 year term and was approved by the voters last year.
Improvements are also coming to the club house at Eagle Falls Golf Club, which is now under CourseCo’s management.
The new general manager, Jeff Stange, is in place and Herrig said, “things are going well.”
The food and beverage options are limited currently, but preliminary plans have been drafted for the improvements there, Herrig said.
A beer permit was also recently approved for the golf course, he said.
Since CourseCo took over management in February, golfers have complained about not being able to use friend’s golf carts.
A rule that has long been on the books, and is included in the contracts people sign at the golf course, a golf cart owner is allowed to use the cart free of additional fees and add one other user to the list who can use the cart without paying the $15 trails fee.
The rule had been poorly enforced by former golf management and is now being enforced. City and CourseCo officials have been meeting with golfers to explain the rule and reasoning since cart fees are a significant source of revenue for golf courses.
For the last few months, dog park users have been coming to Park and Recreation Advisory Board meetings asking the city to make improvements to the dog park and add a second dog park.
Herrig said Monday that staff has discussed the requests and determined they were comfortable keeping water spigots outside the fence versus adding them inside the fenced area and that a temporary dog park for the month the park is closed for maintenance each year wasn’t feasible with existing resources.
The sunken area has been fixed, the decorative fire hydrant in the large dog area was removed, the ramps were being rebuilt, the PVC weave poles and hurdles were being replaced, concrete was added around a bench to prevent water accumulation and a drain was rebuilt.
Herrig said the board can discuss establishing a second dog park, but that was unlikely until the department gets through the $12 million in deferred maintenance. A second dog park was included in the master plan for down the road, after the deferred maintenance is completed unless outside entities wanted to raise the funds for building a second dog park as they did for the existing park that the city maintains.
The city forestry division is catching up on eight years of requested tree trimming that was delayed while it was working through hazard tree trimming. Forester Todd Seymanski told the board Monday that they were making good progress and anticipated finishing that tree trimming by late fall or early spring.
The tree trimming has resulted in minimal cleanup after storms, Seymanski said.
He said the late freeze has affected trees in the city and there will be damage to trees. He suggested additional care from property owners with trees, but not to apply nitrogen since it would cause additional growth problems for trees.
The city is also short on life guards so far, as is Great Falls Public Schools, but staff said Monday that it’s still early in the season and the same thing happened last year so it wasn’t yet a crisis, but encouraged anyone interested to apply.