ANACONDA — The timing may not be perfect, considering a recent blast of winter weather, but Beaver Dam Park in Opportunity is finished and ready for use.
Snow covered the playground, basketball court and walking trail on Wednesday, keeping most folks inside — whether they liked it or not.
“We have four kids, and they want to go down there now,” said a smiling Mindy Huot. “We had to say no.”
Formerly the site of Beaver Dam School, the park has a little something for everyone in the neighborhood to enjoy when the days are warmer again. At 9.52 acres, there is plenty of space for everything from picnics to pick-up games.
The school building, closed since 1981, remains standing though mothballed and surrounded by a tall chain link fence to keep out vandals. A nearby pavilion mimics its design.
Lights at the park are also historically representative, bringing in the town’s old-style poles cast at the Anaconda Foundry Fabrication Co.
Construction on the $1.3 million project wrapped up at the end of October, and its new stone sign came in last week. Planning Director Connie Ternes-Daniels said a few odds and ends are left to do, including work that will eventually make the park a trailhead to the Greenway.
For now, Ternes-Daniels said she is happy with how it has all come together.
“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “This restores what was an incredibly blighted area.”
Opportunity has long wanted its own park, and funding finally came through in 2005 when U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., secured a $5 million appropriation for Anaconda-Deer Lodge and Missoula counties in response to the Milltown Dam removal.
Judy Minnehan, co-owner of Solan’s Grocery in Opportunity, said the buzz about the park has been nothing but positive.
“There’s something there for the whole family to do,” Minnehan said. “It’s wonderful, and I think it looks great.”