Dressing up downtown: Creekside Park proposal makes debut

Deb Hill
News-Argus Managing Editor

The proposal for Creekside Park includes an amphitheater, performance pavilion and creekside dining. The Youth Engagement committee of ROC is working on the plan.

Drawing courtesy of Foley Group architects

Musicians and actors performing under the shade of a pavilion. Families relaxing on the grass, enjoying music on a warm summer’s evening. Hikers taking in the beauty of tall trees along the banks of Spring Creek. Diners enjoying food and drink at tables near the water. Kids climbing on playground equipment or chasing each other across the grass.

This is the vision for a piece of land located across from the Yogo Inn on Main Street, a vision promoted by the Youth Engagement Committee of the Recharge Our Community organization.

Wednesday morning the committee shared its concept at a meeting of the Lewistown Trails Coordinating Committee. Billings architect James R. Foley, present by conference call, walked those in attendance through the proposal, pointing out key features of the plan.

“The pavilion faces southeast,” Foley explained, “to keep the sun out of performers’ eyes. It’s also placed so the music is aimed at those sitting in the amphitheater, and not at the neighbors. Between seating under the pavilion roof and on the grass of the amphitheater, more than 200 people can gather.”

In addition to the pavilion and amphitheater, Foley proposes remodeling the old mill building recently purchased by the City of Lewistown, converting it into an outdoor dining facility.

“We can renovate it to become a dining deck with a metal roof, right on the creek,” Foley said.

“I like that idea,” City of Lewistown Recreation Director Jim Daniels responded. “We had talked about using that building for storage, but I think we’ll just find our storage somewhere else.”

A small playground near the outdoor dining area provides entertainment for young children while their parents enjoy a brew or a meal.

The 71-space paved parking area will not only improve traffic flow across the property, but also offers a comfortable location for the Lewistown Farmers Market.  Restrooms would accommodate those enjoying the park, as well as hikers using the trail system, Foley said.

“This [development] could come in around the half a million dollar range, to do it right and all at once,” Foley estimated.


Proposal receives favorable response

“I think the concept looks great,” Daniels said. “It’s very feasible and I see a lot of real positives. We’ve been looking for something like this.”

Susan Barta and Karen Sweeney, representing the ROC Youth Engagement committee, echoed Daniels’ remarks.

“We need to be more visitor-friendly, to offer more for guests in our community,” Sweeney said. “This plan would do that.”

“It’s very well thought out,” Barta added. “Even things like year-round restrooms make a difference. Right now we don’t have any facilities for those using the trails in the winter, and it would help us to promote winter tourism.”

Jim Chalmers, chairman of the Lewistown Trails Coordinating Committee, offered his group’s support for the proposal.

“This [property] is such a great area – it’s the one place in downtown where the creek is daylighted and undeveloped,” Chalmers said.

Trails Committee member Clay Dunlap agreed, adding he particularly liked the proposed memorial to Karl Gies, a 10-foot-diameter flowerbed with a monument dedicated to Gies. Prior to his death, Gies was an active member of the trails group.

Mike Chapman, representing Trout Unlimited, added his support for the overall proposal, although he expressed concern about runoff from the paved parking area contaminating the creek.

“I would like to see a provision to prevent hydrocarbons from entering the wetlands,” Chapman said.


Next steps

Chalmers suggested ideas for how to move the project forward, including finding funding.

“I suggest the ROC committee approach the Central Montana Foundation for a grant to pay for phasing plans and cost estimates,” Chalmers said, adding that he was fairly familiar with financing for this type of project.

 “If we can get the next phase, including cost estimates, completed, then we’ll know what we are talking about in terms of overall costs,” Chalmers said.

Additional work yet to be completed includes discussions with nearby property owners, fleshing out details of the development, and receiving public input.

“We’d really like to hear from the public about this plan,” Sweeney said, noting that such input should be directed to the City of Lewistown via Interim City Manager Holly Phelps. Comments can be sent by email to cityoffice@ci.lewistown.mt.us.

The deadline for comments, Sweeney said, is July 23.



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