Just after World War II, a typhoid outbreak hit a dairy farm in east Bozeman, causing farmer Earl Peet to shut down the operation in 1946 and offer to donate 40 acres of land to the city.
The city declined, and, a year later, the Burke Family bought the land to use as a horse pasture. It became a popular place for walkers and bikers, but it wasn’t until 1993 that the city and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust partnered to buy the 40 acres for $235,000.
The two again worked together in 2008 to buy two acres of additional land for $500,000.
Now, seven decades after Peet originally offered up his land, the city is again being offered a chance to purchase land in the area, this time a 12-acre plot at the far southern end of the hill that has a trail running through it connecting Burke Park with Kagy Boulevard.
The price for the land is much steeper than it was 75 years ago.
The 12-acre plot was put up for sale over the summer. After the first offer fell through, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust made a bid for $1.2 million in August and has until January to close the deal.
GVLT has raised $800,000 toward the approximately $1.23 million purchase price and is asking the city for several hundred thousand dollars more.
During a Recreation and Parks Advisory Board meeting Thursday night, a GVLT representative presented their ask to the city: $485,000 now to help close the sale, and $315,000 over the next two years to help complete the project, which will also include some trail upgrades and other work.
Phasing the payment over time will allow cash-in-lieu of parkland fund to replenish itself, city park staff said. The fund gets money when developers choose to pay cash to the city rather than providing the parkland required under city development standards.
Parks and Recreation Director Mitch Overton said the city will also pursue grants to cover some of the $315,000.
The Recreation and Parks Advisory Board unanimously approved recommending the plan to the city commission, which is scheduled to review it in early December. If approved by the city commission, the park will be turned over to city ownership after the sale is closed.
Brendan Weiner, conservation director at GVLT, noted during the meeting that the land was originally supposed to become a housing development — it was platted for hundreds of homesites in 1892 to be called the Electric Heights subdivision.
“This property hasn’t changed a whole lot since 1892, really, when that plat was established,” Weiner said. “This was on the open market, and if we aren’t able to close (in January) it will go back on the open market.”
Weiner highlighted the large amount of support the project received — over 650 people donated to the fundraising campaign in a matter of weeks.
Addi Jadin, a parks planner, city said the park is an important connector for the city’s trail system and adds to a large network of parks and open space in east Bozeman.
“It’s really a part of this existing 200-acre complex that includes the library and Lindley Park and the Sunset Hills cemetery and open space complexes and the softball area, that together these open spaces create a community park that is a draw for the entire city,” Jadin said. “This is clearly a spot that has a lot of visibility … it’s used by people across the city.”