Residents invited to Westside Park/Playground Grand Opening October 29
Missoula Parks and Recreation and its partners invite residents to celebrate the completion of an all-new school-age playground at Westside Park on Saturday, October 29, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine. Kids and families will have a blast with entertaining games and activities for all ages, delicious concessions and a dance party with local DJ “Professor Of Fun” Coach Shane.
Mayor Jordan Hess will kick off the event with brief remarks and donor recognition at 4 p.m. The project was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and many private and public partners, including the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Giuliani family, the Tykeson Family Foundation, the Sunderland Foundation, Providence St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula County Public Schools and the City of Missoula.
Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler says the project has been in the works since the fall of 2018 when 300 Lowell Elementary School students visited playgrounds across Missoula to help shape the design of their own new play space. “This playground comes from an incredible student, parent, neighborhood, and community effort,” said Gaukler. “The power of public-private partnerships to make our community healthier, more livable and inclusive is astounding.”
The new playground’s inclusive design allows children of all ages and abilities to play together. It contains unique features like a multi-level climbing structure dubbed Lowell Mountain and a massive net climber, which allows children to climb and explore on an elevated rope grid.
Other park improvements include new basketball and multi-sport courts, turf play areas, new pathways throughout the park and additional trees and landscaping. Phase 1 of the Westside Park Project, including a new preschool-age playground, picnic shelter, hand-washing station and restroom enclosure, opened in 2021.
Westside Park is located at 1100 Sherwood Street. Non-scary Halloween costumes are welcome and encouraged at Saturday’s celebration. (Small children will be in attendance. No prop or real weapons, bloody or gory costumes please.)
MCPS, City develop a master plan for Westside Park
- Master Park Plan and Narrative
- Open House Presentation
- Help build a new playground for Lowell Elementary/Westside Park
Missoula Parks and Recreation and Missoula County Public Schools have developed a master park plan for Westside Park.
A master park plan is a comprehensive community vision for the park and guides future park development. With the Master Plan in place, Parks and Recreation and our partners can pursue funding for park development through the City budget, state and federal grants, impact fees and private and public partnerships.
The Master Park Plan includes a new playground that was designed in part by local play experts—the Westside neighborhood kids who’ll be using it. In 2018, 310 students from Lowell Elementary participated in a playground study, which included a field trip to six different playgrounds throughout the City. Kids had a chance to play on the features at each playground and tell park planners and MCPS staff which of those elements they would like to see in their own school playground. Park designers used the study to gain valuable insight into how children interact with each other and with the various play features in each park.
Westside Park’s existing wood playground was constructed in 1989 through a community-wide fundraising and build project. Playground safety inspectors contracted by the City have determined the structure has reached the end of its natural life expectancy, and they recommend it be replaced as soon as possible. In Missoula’s harsh winter climate, wood playgrounds of this type have a typical life span of 15 to 20 years. Parks and Recreation plans to salvage and re-use some of the existing playground elements and artwork where feasible.
Funding for the new playground will come from the City, MCPS and private fundraising. Westside Park is located on land owned by MCPS and leased to the City of Missoula, which operates and maintains the park.
For more information, contact Nathan McLeod, Parks & Trails Design/Development Coordinator at 552-6261 or via email.