New Stodden Park arch

A construction crew works recently on a newly erected arch over the Utah Avenue entrance to Stodden Park in Butte. It is part of $5.5 million in upgrades and enhancements that will officially debut June 18.

Just 10 days after Butte’s $8.7 million water park is set to open for its second season, county officials and others will cut the ribbon on $5.5 million worth of enhancements to the rest of Stodden Park.

Work crews are scurrying to have everything done by June 18, when a noon celebration will be followed by walkthroughs to showcase all the upgrades, including a midway area, new tennis courts, a new entrance arch and a roundabout.

That’s right — a roundabout. It will be the first in the Butte area, beating out one under construction at the Interstate 15-90 exit at Rocker. The one at Stodden, minus some landscaping, is done.

“One of the things we talked about, coming in and out of there, is it would be a great place to put the first roundabout,” J.P. Gallagher, Butte-Silver Bow’s parks director, said Monday.

“But boy it raises the ire of some people,” he said with a smile. “They just don’t like them. But then you actually see them function. It keeps traffic flowing. You don’t have the stops and go’s.”

The pool and lazy river at Ridge Waters will be filled with water on May 28 and the water park is set to open at noon Saturday, June 8. Everything for a second season there is set to go.

Most of the other improvements to Stodden are courtesy of $5.5 million in donations from Montana Resources and the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, and some are complete or close to being done.

There is a new arch over the park entrance off of Utah Street that’s similar to the arch at Montana Tech. The roundabout follows, with one roadway veering toward the water park, carousel, playground and midway area, and one road going to Highland View Golf Course.

The main parking lot already has been expanded and more parking is being added near the golf course building, including angled spaces off the roadway. There will be more than 120 new spaces in all.

There is a new park entrance off of Rowe Road that has been the only route into the area while work on the arch and roundabout was being done. There are new sidewalks and curbs everywhere, including some that hug the new roadway off of Rowe.

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Gallagher said finishing touches have already been made to new tennis courts, which also include basketball hoops and markings for pickleball.

Most of a $1 million “destination playground” was completed last fall and people have been using it, but it will be shut down for a week starting Tuesday, May 28, so foam-rubber surface can be installed that is easy for with walkers or wheelchairs to use.

It will replace all wood-fiber chips in the play area for kids aged 2 to 5 and will be used for paths that connect to all features in the rest of the playground.

“We really wanted it to be an all-accessible playground,” Gallagher said.

Cathy Tutty, a member of the county’s Parks and Recreation Board, is raising money through Kiwanis, Exchange Club and other civic groups in hopes of purchasing musical features such as large xylophones, drums and chimes for the playground.

The $13,000 expense wasn’t part of the original upgrade plan, she said, but a playground in Missoula has such features and they are a hit.

With their addition, she said, “There will be so many different things to do that there isn’t a single kid standing on the sideline. There are so many things to get every kid involved.”

The park has a new midway area that starts between the water park and carousel and extends south past the tennis courts and into the park. It includes a large new pavilion and walkways and will soon have grass, trees and bushes.

There is still a lot of landscaping work that needs to be done, but Gallagher said it, too, should be completed by the opening ceremony on June 18.

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