MISSOULA — Missoula is growing, adding 3,000 new housing units to downtown in the past 15 years.
Now the Missoula Downtown Partnership says they're trying to keep up and make downtown parks even more accessible.
That's why they're working on some renovation plans for Caras Park.
David Wilson, who is visiting from out of state, says his family told him the park is the place to be. "He said there'll be food and music, that's all we need."
"For many people, it's their first introduction into the community," said Downtown Missoula Partnership Executive Director Linda McCarthy.
She added that as Missoula gets more and more recognition, it's time to make some upgrades to Caras Park.
"We've been working with Missoula Parks and Recreation to implement phase one of the North Riverside Parks and Trails plan."
The Downtown Missoula Partnership hopes to upgrade the amphitheater seating, the plaza, widen the trails, and add ADA seating.
McCarthy said because the park is home to so many activities, upgrades would mean a lot.
"You look at all the different festivals, weddings, funerals, the markets, we have a lot of opportunities for people to connect."
"It's a very special place, to have a town square right on the river. We've been able to do a lot of great things, but there's also a lot other newer, great things we can do as well. - Downtown Missoula Partnership Executive Director Linda McCarthy
She says they're fundraising $650,000 which will be matched by the city, "we need to create a park that people want to be every day, all day long."
Another goal is to bring those people to nearby businesses like A Carousel for Missoula.
"There are people also who are just walking around downtown, every now and then you hear people say 'whoa look at this, I didn't know there was a carousel in Missoula," said A Carousel for Missoula Executive Director Theresa Cox.
She said the carousel is its own attraction, but she believes upgrades to Caras Park would bring even more people in.
"To enhance that area, and really bring people to downtown Missoula, which is the heart of what draws us both to live here, and to visit here, is amazing." - A Carousel for Missoula Executive Director Theresa Cox
"Oh yeah, it's fabulous. For mid-week, I see mostly families out, it's great fun," Wilson said.
McCarthy says she's hoping to secure her portion of the funds by the end of August.