Bozeman’s newest park will open in one month and crews are busy installing playground equipment, finishing trails and planting trees.

Story Mill Community Park is nearly seven years in the making and will cover 60 acres. Construction and restoration began in April 2018.

Next week, two sculptures will be installed. Montana State University art professor Jim Zimpel created one of the pieces, and the other was made by Stephen Fairfield.

Maddy Pope, Trust for Public Land project manager, has been working on the park design since the beginning.

“We’ve thought a lot about how people will move through the space,” Pope said.

At one entrance, near the old Boys and Girls Club, visitors can find three of the park’s five pavilions and wide concrete walkways. Paths throughout the park are made of a variety of materials and are designed to maximize accessibility.

Pope said planners have tried to meet or exceed standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Another entrance, leading into a nature reserve, has a wide gravel path to allow for vehicles. Groups like Eagle Mount or the Senior Center could use it through special requests for visits. A portion of this area has been open since February.

The East Gallatin River runs through the property. Park planners included two fishing access sites, one of which is wheelchair accessible.

“It’s an inter-generational place where grandparents can bring their grandkids,” Pope said.

The park also includes an “adventure playground,” a community garden, a natural amphitheater, a dog park, a nature reserve and a sledding hill.

Dogs will be allowed off-leash in a designated area, on-leash in parts of the park, but barred from the nature reserve. Pope said studies show that wildlife often flee when dogs are present. Visitors may spot coyotes, sandhill cranes and black bears in the area.

The project cost $16.3 million. The city of Bozeman contributed $4.5 million through voter-approved bonds and the Trust for Public Land collected $11.8 million from 450 donors.

The trust gave the city a $200,000 grant for future upkeep.

Pope said many of the park’s amenities were made possible through local partnerships.

Sacajawea Audubon Society built a bird feeding station in the nature reserve and will host guided walks and bird counts. So far, the society has counted 115 species of birds in the park.

The Gallatin Valley Food Bank is planning workshops, gardening demonstrations and volunteer opportunities in the “Learning Garden” and “Food Forest.” Gallatin County Youth Court Services and Big Sky Youth Empowerment will connect young people with mentors for a gardening program, as well.

Bozeman Parks and Recreation has taken over the building that previously housed the Boys and Girls Club, now called the Story Mill Community Center. The recreation department is using it for offices, summer camps and preschool programs. It sits next to the park.

Story Mill Community Park will have a public grand opening July 20 with a full day of activities and a performance by Nashville singer-songwriter Holly Williams.

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