Stodden Park Announcement

Mike Halligan of Missoula, the executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, speaks at Stodden Park last year during announcement of a $2.5-million gift to Butte-Silver Bow to make improvements at the park. The Washington Foundation and Montana Resources are now making an additional $3 million grant to the county to enhance the upgrades.

Stodden Park is expected to receive an additional $3 million worth of upgrades if the Council of Commissioners approves a new grant offered by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources Wednesday.

The money is expected to enhance much of what the county had planned last year when the Washington Foundation and MR gave a $2.5-million grant to help initiate work on the park.

But Butte-Silver Bow Parks and Recreation Director J.P. Gallagher said Monday that instead of a $350,000 children’s playground, the county is now going to put in a $1-million children’s playground into the park.

Work is ongoing on the park and on the carousel, which will provide a replica of the carousel that existed in the former Columbia Gardens amusement park in Butte. Columbia Gardens closed in 1973. The $3 million will also pay for landscaping work that will surround the building that will house the carousel. Previously, the private foundation behind the creation of the carousel, Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel, was going to be responsible for that landscaping, Gallagher said.

The $3 million grant will also pay for improvements to roads leading into the park and a parking lot. It will allow for the construction of stormwater infrastructure. Additional work funded by the Washington Foundation and MR grant include the tennis courts, picnic shelters, gazebos, and a "Central Park corridor" that will run between the new water park and the carousel.

The mining company will not, however, support moving the dilapidated Columbia Gardens’ arch to Stodden Park. That was part of the original plan, but further investigation into the arch, which wound up at a private home in southwest Butte, determined that it can’t practically be moved to the park.

“It was too cost-prohibitive to bring it in,” Gallagher said.

In place of that, the county has opted to build a pavilion that will be reminiscent of the dance pavilion that was located at Columbia Gardens, Gallagher said.

In addition to the carousel, the water park is under construction, thanks to a $7.2-million public bond and $1.5 million in public and private money.

The carousel is going up thanks to fundraising efforts from a nonprofit called the Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel Foundation and years of volunteers' work.

Gallagher said the county intends to have the park complete by the end of construction season next year.

Both Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Dave Palmer and MR’s president Rolin Erickson have said they anticipate Stodden becoming a “premier park facility” in Butte.

Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, said, “We are pleased to support the revitalization of Butte’s signature public park.”

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Nat'l Resources / General Reporter

Environmental and natural resources reporter for the Montana Standard.

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