After seven years of planning and construction, Story Mill Community Park held its grand opening on Saturday.

Covering about 60 acres, the mission to turn the Story Mill area into a park was spearheaded by The Trust for Public Land, working with the City of Bozeman and other partners.

With opening festivities in full swing, fly fishers practiced their casting on the lawn, a group did yoga, kids played on the new playground and people played fetch with their canine companions in the dog park, among a whole host of other activities.

It was amazing seeing all the organizations’ hard work come to fruition, Trust For Public Land project manager Maddy Pope said.

“We’ve been working on this park since 2012,” she said. “And I have to say, of course, it’s rewarding and exciting and a little surreal.”

In a historically industrial area, the land was most recently home to a trailer park that was bulldozed to make way for a high-density commercial and residential development that never happened.

HRDC will head up a housing development geared toward middle income earners adjacent to the park, and City of Bozeman parks director Mitch Overton said it’s nice to know that the park will be an amenity Bozeman residents can enjoy no matter their socioeconomic background, especially considering that northeast Bozeman was identified as a “park poor” neighborhood.

“Everyone deserves a great park, and they get one right here with the Story Mill Community Park,” he said.

Overton said Story Mill can rival any other flagship park in the country, in cities large and small. When Bozeman goes to conferences and holds trainings, it will be used as an example of a positive way to use a space, he said.

And as Bozeman gets bigger, Pope said good parks will be even more important.

“It’s a reflection that, as Bozeman grows, it’s essential that we are connected through our open spaces,” she said.

Vickie Lyons lives near the park and visited the grand opening with her kids, who are two and five years old. Running into a whole slew of her neighbors and their families during the day, she said she’d long awaited the opening. It will be a great place for her kids for years to come, she said.

“There’s something for everyone here,” she said. “It’s one of those days we feel lucky to live in Bozeman.”

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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