MISSOULA - People now have the chance to check out a proposed master plan for a popular Missoula area outdoor location.
The City of Missoula and Missoula County has announced that the conceptual master plan for Marshall Mountain Park is available for public review on engagemissoula.com.
The document — which comes following input from residents and user groups — looks at several items including long-term development opportunities and more immediate improvements needed for safety and public access.
The immediate improvements to the site include trailhead improvements, construction of a vault toilet, basic parking improvements and ADA access. Potential future ideas include a native plant demonstration area and a new base building.
City officials note while the plan will help guide the potential future development of the park, it is flexible to allow for phased implementation based on available funding.
“The conceptual master plan illustrates our community’s long-term commitment to protecting public access at Marshall Mountain and charts an exciting course for continued public use and natural resource protection at the site,” said Chet Crowser, Chief Lands and Communities Officer for Missoula County. “If successfully acquired, Missoula County and our project partners are looking forward to making immediate improvements to open the park for public use, as well as finding creative solutions through fundraising, partnerships and external grants to potentially add additional improvements over time.”
Missoula County along with the City of Missoula and several community partners, recently announced a new, lead role in efforts to secure permanent public ownership of the 480-acre former ski hill near East Missoula.
Since June 2021, Missoula County and the City of Missoula have worked with community partners and user groups to make plans for the potential ownership, management and development of the site by local government. County and city officials are now looking at a new model that considers having county ownership and management of a future Marshall Mountain Park. Under this proposal, both the City and County would share operational costs.
“The City of Missoula enthusiastically supports the County’s leadership efforts in securing Marshall Mountain as a park for all. An all-seasons, all-mountain park that can host a wide variety of mountain-based recreation opportunities, enhance access, and provide unique opportunities is needed now and for future generations," City Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler said. "We look forward to building on our ongoing and shared efforts to support residents across the County."
The estimated cost to acquire all three parcels is approximately $2.4 million, which officials say is a below market value, "thanks to the generosity of the landowners." In addition to voter-approved Open Space Bond funds that already appear on property tax bills, Missoula County, the City of Missoula and partners are seeking nearly $800,000 in state, federal and private grants to support acquisition of the park.
The City Open Space Advisory Council and the County Open Lands Citizen’s Advisory Committee will be meeting in the coming months to discuss possible recommendations to City Council and the County Commission for acquisition funding.
Additional meetings of the Missoula County Parks and Trails Advisory Board and the City’s Climate, Conservation and Parks Committee will inform decisions about potential ownership and management of a new park.
Missoula County commissioners and the Missoula City Council will make final decisions regarding the acquisition funding, the conceptual master plan, and long-term ownership and management of Marshall Mountain later this year.