MISSOULA – The second phase of the grand opening at Fort Missoula Regional Park has been postponed until July 26th but they’ll still play softball games on the new fields to celebrate the facility.
Missoula residents will have to wait a little longer than anticipated for the grand opening of Phase Two of Fort Missoula Regional Park — and Mother Nature is to blame.
“Hopefully, people recall the amount of flooding, and rain — and heavy rain — [as well as] a very long cold season. One of the most difficult things has been to get the turf seeded and give it appropriate time to grow," said Missoula Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler. "Opening a park and saying keep off the grass just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us.”
The new grand opening date will provide an extra four weeks for Missoula Parks and Recreation to have the complex set and ready to go.
One of the issues the weather has created is muddy areas on the soccer fields which are used throughout the week. Gaukler says Parks and Rec has two budgets for the new facility; an ongoing maintenance budget which covers long-term maintenance and a budget related to daily use — like what’s seen on the soccer fields.
“Those customers — or users — do pay a fee and we match that to our maintenance budget because they go together, so we do anticipate wear and tear," Gaukler explained.
Despite the delay in the second phase the softball fields — which are located at the park’s eastern edge — will be hosting their grand opening tournament this week thanks to a joint effort by the Parks and Rec Department, the Missoula Softball Association, and the Missoula Church League.
“We have been allowing the softball league play to occur," Gaukler said. "We actually have a tournament, so we will feature that five-plex this weekend on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday."
Gaukler told MTN News that she’s exceedingly pleased with how the complex is shaping up and hopes that the community shows up in large numbers to celebrate a park which has been years in the making.
The entire park — with the exception of the dog park — will be open and ready for use for the July 26th grand opening date.