MISSOULA — A small park near Fort Missoula that once offered batting cages will become part of the larger regional park and include a number of new offerings once funding becomes available.
Missoula County on Tuesday approved a site plan for the 1-acre parcel to include a reflection garden and expanded sports courts. The master plan was designed in consultation with the city.
“The preferred master plan is reflective of public comments received,” said county planner Jackson Lee. “Improvements would include pickleball and handball courts, interpretive elements, a reflection garden, and also serve as the southeast gateway to the park.”
A $42 million bond for Fort Missoula Regional Park was approved by voters in 2014, and the sprawling facility now serves as the city’s primary athletic complex. The old batting cages were privately operated on county land under a lease agreement.
When the lease expired, the city and county moved to place the small plot of property under the management and operation of Fort Missoula Regional Park. The plan for the parcel was also approved by the County Parks and Trails Advisory Board.
“There’s no current timeline for instillation of these improvements, as they’re dependent on securing formal partnerships for grants and other funding sources,” said Lee. “We do have interest from some community partners, especially in regard to the sports courts.”
The preferred mast plan for the former batting cages at Fort Missoula Regional Park.
Lee said any use of the parcel must adhere to rules of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which require it to be open and maintained in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation.
Lee said the plan looks to integrate the parcel as a revitalized “park within a park” offering various recreation opportunities for users, and to enhance the southeast gateway to Fort Missoula Regional Park.
Funding for the effort is being sought, he added.
“The city has been leading the planning process, and they also have the connection with the community partners,” he said. “We’d look to grant writing sources and community partners for that.”