Final designs are in on more than $2 million worth of major improvements to Stodden Park in Butte and the makeover could be completed by the end of construction season next year.

A few things are still up in the air, including precise plans for a “destination playground” and whether there will be a second entrance into the park off of Rowe Road.

Competing designs are due this week for playground areas, other work could be bid out in October and everything should be completed in the fall of 2018, engineers with Butte-based Water & Environmental Technologies, the lead designer on the project, said in presentations this week.

The carousel at Stodden should be operating by then and if the weather cooperates, Butte’s $8.7 million waterpark should be open by Memorial Day next year.

“This project was the glue to pull everything together,” Josh Vincent, a principal and marketing director of WET, told commissioners Wednesday night.

This project, funded by a $2.5 million donation from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources, will complement and add to those long-awaited amenities. Parks Director J.P. Gallagher is overseeing the effort for the county.

“The hope is people won’t come to Butte without checking out Stodden Park,” Anthony Laslovich, a project engineer for WET, said Tuesday during a presentation to the Parks & Recreation Board.

Many features are the same or similar to those in preliminary plans discussed in May, including a commons area down the middle of the park, more than 100 additional parking spaces and new benches and planters.

But there are some new touches, too.

For example, preliminary plans included a drainage area behind the carousel that would double as an “ice-skating ribbon” during cold months. New plans call for pavers being used so people can walk on them in warm months and they can be flooded in the winter for ice skating.

There are still plans to dig up three of the six tennis courts at Stodden because they are sinking, stabilize the ground and put new ones in. The other three will be resurfaced and basketball goals will be put in so some of the courts can be used for hoops, too.

The line markings for basketball will be lighter than those for tennis, and under an added feature, people can play pickleball on the courts, too. The racquet sport combines elements of badminton, tennis and ping pong and has become popular in Butte, thanks in large part to accommodations made by the Parks Department.

A “roundabout,” or circular intersection, is in final plans for the Utah Avenue entrance to the park. 

The commons area — or midway — will include benches, planters and ornamental trees and will begin near the current park entrance off of Utah Avenue. Walkways will connect the waterpark and carousel and other park areas.

Final designs on two playground areas — one for kids aged 2 to 5 and the other 5 go 12 — are not in because three companies are still competing for that part of the project. Their plans are due this week.

But the area for older kids is to include a large hill and mine headframe about 40 feet high with a low-hanging zip-line that’s safe even if someone falls. An exercise station will be next to the smaller playground so adults watching their kids can get a workout in if they want.

A lingering objective is a second entrance into the park off of Rowe Road, a street overseen by the Montana Department of Transportation. Engineers for the county and WET have been talking to MDT officials and are optimistic about a second way into the park.

Gallagher told commissioners the revamped park would be something Butte residents are proud of, and Council Chairman John Morgan gave it a preliminary thumbs up.

"Everything looks great from start to finish," he said.