Ballots for the Parks, Recreation and Trails bond will be mailed October 18, 2023.
Projects in this initiative range from repairing and replacing old park infrastructure, to building new playgrounds which have been planned for many years, to building trails which provide key connections, to building a new recreation center for residents and sports tourists.
The park and trail projects focus on equity, so all neighborhoods- from The Heights to the South Side and West End, are equipped with playgrounds and updated community centers.
The Recreation Center is part of this bond question becuase it will provide youth with two sheets of ice, the largest indoor pool in Montana, basketball courts and after school activities.
Many of the projects in the bond already have partial funding, and the bond would enable them to be built. The Recreation Center, for instance, will leverage $25 million from the South Billings Urban Renewal TIF district to build the $110 million facility, so taxpayers will fund $85.9 million.
There are six different trail projects in this bond, plus trail-wide signage. Billings TrailNet has committed to donating $425,000 for $6.2 million in projects. These trails are also eligible for grants. This means that in order to build these projects, the city will apply for grants and if awarded, will have the necessary matching funds from both the bond revenues and Billings TrailNet’s donations, to build the trails.
Other trail projects include:
- Yellowjacket Trail (a trail along 27th St., between Rimrock Rd. and Highway 3 at the airport roundabout)
- Alkali Creek– beteween Aronson and Main St, where the trail ends at Airport Road
- Lillian Avenue to Coulson Park (from the south end of 25th St. going east, under the I90 overpass to Coulson Park)
- 25th St. Bridge (a pedestrian bridge to provide access over the railroad tracks near the Billings Depot)
- Tunnel under Highway 3 to connect the new trail along the Inner Belt Loop to the south side of Highway 3, where the new Stagecoach Trail and Skyline Trail await pedestrians and cyclists!
- Citywide directional trail signage
One such project is the Stagecoach Trail, which will cost $5.5 million. The City has already been notified that they were approved for the grant, and now must come up with $670,000 in matching funds to build it. Billings TrailNet has committed $100,000 to building the Stagecoach Trail, so the City will use $570,000 from the bond revenues, if the community passes the bond, to pay the balance.