Packed house in support of Riverside Park plan

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor

Between 25 and 30 people packed the galley at Tuesday evening’s city council meeting. With few exceptions they attended for the scheduled Public Hearing on the Riverside Park Master Plan. The plan, which has been months in the making, is the result of meetings of the advisory committee and public input. It was prepared for the city by City Planner Noel Eaton and Jerry Grebenc from Great West Engineering.

Beginning in April, members of the parks board, planning board, city staff, and at-large members formed the advisory committee and began hammering out the plan which will provide guidance to the city for the next 10 years. In August, the city held an open house at Jaycee Hall in Riverside Park. More than 100 residents and park users attended and provided input on the park improvements important to them.

During her presentation on the plan, Eaton gave a brief history of the traditional uses of the park and explained redevelopment is necessary because of the damage caused by the 2011 flood and pipeline break. Jaycee Hall was the only building that didn’t receive significant damage during the event.

Eaton noted that “setting of realistic goals,” was an important aspect of the plan. She said some of the considerations the committee had to weigh are that the park is in the flood plain; there are gas and oil pipelines, utilities and water lines in the park; the condition of the buildings; and funding.

The four priorities identified from the open house were the restoration of water and restrooms; preserving the buildings; opening the park back up to camping; and the continuation of shooting sports, Eaton said.

After Mayor Tom Nelson opened the public hearing to proponents, eight people spoke in favor of the plan. All but one proponent mentioned support for shooting sports, and several 4H members stood as representatives of the kids affected by the closure of the Rifle Club building when their 4H leader, Jennifer Laszloffy spoke.

Among the folks that spoke in favor of the plan was Roni Baker, Yellowstone County Extension Agent for 4H. 

“This is the only facility on this side of the county,” she said. “There are 250 kids in shooting sports.” Baker offered the use of volunteer labor if it would help. She said the county was able to save the 4H building at the fairgrounds after members worked to fix the deficiencies.

Several other proponents who spoke are shooting sports leaders. One of them said the education provided at the facilities in Riverside Park have produced world-class shooters, including one who received a full college scholarship for her abilities.

President of the Rod and Gun Club, Curtis Lord said, “I’m excited this has come to where it is.”

There were no opponents to the plan.

Among the regularly scheduled matters on the agenda, the council confirmed appointments made by the Mayor; approved a resolution for the purchase of a new Montana Peterbilt garbage truck; and approved the Laurel Rod and Gun Club’s request to hold turkey shoots on Feb. 18 and March 18.

As there are five Tuesdays in the month, the council does not meet next week.

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