Butte waterpark on target for Memorial Day opening

Workers from Markovich Construction of Butte on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, continue framing in the main building of the new waterpark being built at Stodden Park. All concrete has been poured for the pool and lazy river and Butte-Silver Bow Parks Director J.P. Gallagher says the waterpark is on schedule to open on Memorial Day weekend next year.

Ridge Waters it is.

Butte-Silver Bow commissioners chose that as the official name of Butte’s $8.7 million water park Wednesday night, backing a recommendation by the Parks and Recreation Board.

The name plays on Butte’s East Ridge and headwaters to the Columbia River system and was recommended in part because of its future marketability in logos and promotions that could draw more summer visitors to Butte.

Although a few commissioners questioned the name, others said the process for choosing one was open to the public and suggestions were welcome from anyone. After some brief discussion, the council voted 8-4 for the name.

"This may not be my favorite name or anyone's favorite name but the process worked," Commissioner Jim Fisher said. "To the naysayers — I think this is a name that is going to work."

The Parks Division let anyone make suggestions via the county's website and invited fifth- and sixth-graders to weigh in, too. About 200 names were submitted and a committee narrowed them to Ridge Waters, Treasure Cove and 406 Waterpark.

The parks board last month nixed 406 Waterpark because that play on Montana’s area code is widely used and its popularity might not last. It forwarded Treasure Cove and Ridge Waters to the council, with the latter its top choice.

Treasure Cove plays on Montana’s nickname as the treasure state, but some parks board members — and subsequently some commissioners — thought it sounded too much like a casino.

Omitted from contention were any people's names, words used with other pools or waterparks in Montana, and any mining terms or those so distinctive to Butte they could turn off potential visitors.

“We talked about how it (a name) would sound to the Butte community but also how it sounds to people outside of Butte,” Parks Director J.P. Gallagher said Wednesday.

Cathy Tutty, a parks board member, said the hope is to draw people not just from Whitehall, Anaconda and other nearby places, but those 120 miles or more away, too.

“The whole idea in everything we are doing is for it to be a regional facility that will attract people,” she said.

The target date for opening is Memorial Day weekend in May.

Gallagher said Butte resident Joan McNabb submitted the name Ridge Waters, saying it associates the East Ridge as part of Butte and references the Continental Divide, which separates water flow in the continental U.S. 

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Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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