Bozeman voters approved the creation of a parks and trails district with 61% voting yes. So what does that mean for the maintenance of these shared spaces, and how much will that cost?
“Just like your home or your care, if you maintain it regularly it will last longer, and you’ll have to replace it further down the road,” said Mitch Overton, Bozeman Parks and Recreation director.
The City of Bozeman says there’s just under $7 million dollars of maintenance backlog for parks and trails across the city.
“A parks and trails special district really takes the entire city and the entire park and trail system and creates one assessment for that entire system,” said Overton.
That system includes 42 parks in Bozeman covering 921 acres and 62 miles of trails around the city.
“One assessment that would be distributed city-wide based on the square footage of your lot. And then 100% of those funds would go towards park, trail and playground maintenance.”
Originally, this was expected to cost the taxpayer approximately $135 a year for the average homeowner. But Mayor Chris Mehl says this cost is being re-evaluated.
“There were proposals, but those were all pre-COVID,” said Mayor Chris Mehl.
“I can’t imagine that we’re going to go to that full amount. People are hurting. Businesses are struggling. That’s our highest priority. Keeping people safe and bringing back economic stability.”
Mayor Mehl says the parks and trails district will eventually include playgrounds and parks within neighborhoods currently covered by homeowner associations.
“We’ll have to look about how quickly we phase in, just because of the economic uncertainty, and pain that exists in the community. But at the end of the day the HOA playgrounds and parks will be brought into the city system,” said Mehl.
The City of Bozeman was prepared to spend over $25,000 on an education campaign about the parks and trails district, but that spending was directed to COVID-19-related education funds.