Stodden Park Central Improvement Project butte, montana

As 2020 is more than halfway behind us, the Stodden Park Central Improvement Project nears its concluding phase.

Since 2015, many great parties have come together to make Stodden Park something that the residents of Butte, -Montana (MT), can be proud to call their own. The park's benefits are heavily being utilized year-round more than a year after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Stodden Park has been a part of the Butte community since the donation of the land by Butte resident and former mayor (1919-1921), William Thomas Stodden. The park served as a recreational hub in Butte for decades.

However, in recent years, the park started to show wear and tear from generations of recreational use. Yet, there was hope for the park's future. Three separate projects came together to transform Stodden into one of Montana's most magnificent public parks. Two of the three projects included the waterpark and carousel.

The third project, thanks to the generous, multi-million, donations from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation to the community of Butte to redesign, replace, and upgrade Stodden Park's infrastructure (stormwater, irrigation, gas, and electric), playground, tennis courts, veteran's memorial, Highland View golf course, and all general use areas. The idea was to turn Stodden Park into something that would improve the community of Butte and inspire its residents of all abilities to get out and play.

Since 2015, Water and Environmental Technologies (WET) has been working on the Stodden Park Central Improvement Project alongside many other groups. WET has been passionate about and committed to the project from the very beginning. Anthony Laslovich, WET Project Engineer, stated that WET was so passionate about the project because its work was an investment in the company's back yard. Anthony said,

"My kids will get to enjoy this park as they grow up."

The park has become a part of him and his family. Anthony even joked that his son calls Stodden Park, "Dad's Park," when they drive by. WET highlighted the park's and Butte's past while shaping the landscape for future generations to enjoy.

Three phases came together to complete the project in an efficient timeline. Phase one was focused on the installation of the destination playground. However, with WET's guidance, phase one was redirected to upgrade the existing infrastructure. Replacing and improving the water, gas, and electric lines in phase one were done so that future projects could be done without the delay of having to tear the ground up again.

"It would be like putting a bathtub in your house, and then going back later and installing the plumbing."

-Anthony Laslovich, WET Project Engineer

Replacing the existing infrastructure was crucial to improving the park's functionality.

Stormwater runoff management was an apparent problem right away. Before the project began, there was only one inlet for stormwater to drain out of the park. Water would concentrate into large puddles and wreaked havoc on the parking lots and concreted areas in the past.

Thanks to WET's design, there are now twenty-one inlets, two swells, and two large stormwater ponds throughout the park to properly drain from the park.

All detention and retention requirements now meet stormwater ordinances. One of the stormwater ponds even has a dual purpose as a water feature on the golf course.

The parking lots' grade allows water to run off the asphalt more quickly and into the new curb/gutter system, preventing expedited damage to the parking lots and sidewalks.

Further irrigation and landscaping, along with new paths and trail systems, were added throughout the park. The addition of all-new lighting structures for the pedestrian areas and parking lots was another significant improvement to Stodden Park's safety. WET also designed and implemented a new access road at the park's northwest entrance and implemented an additional (and much needed) 125 parking spots to the main parking lot.

Once the infrastructure upgrades were completed, the project was ready to move into the second phase. The design and construction of the destination park was the focus of this phase. The original theme was centered around the Columbia Gardens, an amusement park established by William Clark for Butte's people in 1899 and destroyed by a fire in 1973.

However, that idea soon changed to a mining theme to pay tribute to the Montana Resources mine owned by the donors, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington. The center attraction of Stodden Park is now a mining themed playground that includes a zipline and other fascinating features to entertain Butte's children.

The athletes of Butte were the focus of phase 2. The existing tennis courts at Stodden Park were in a decrepit and nearly unusable state. There was a noticeable, 12-foot wide, impression in the middle of the courts. The tennis court needed to be dug up and replaced with new soil strong enough to support the tennis courts. Soil sampling revealed that most of the ground underneath the tennis courts comprised animal remains (historical records show that a couple of slaughterhouses operated in that area). There are now six brand new courts for the tennis lovers of Butte. Out of the six tennis courts, two of them are dedicated solely to tennis.

Two courts are also lightly painted with lines that make up four half-courts for basketball, and the other courts have lines lightly painted for pickleball. The last part of phase two diversified the park from a summer-only haven to allow for more winter activities to grow.

Accomplishing this task involved installing an ice-skating ribbon behind the carousel. An ice-skating ribbon is simply a path that can be filled with water and frozen in the winter. It is then thawed and drained to become a walking path in the warmer months

The project is now in the third phase, which will wrap up new additions and upgrades to the Highland View golf course and Veteran's Memorial this year (2020). Anthony Laslovich, PE, explained how humbling it was working with the Veterans Group to recondition the existing Veterans Memorial structure.

Tragically over the years, many of the memorial's plaques have been damaged and even stolen. The WET team has helped with researching all the fallen soldiers, that called Butte home, to replace the plaques with every one of their names.

Aside from the entire structure getting a new face lift, all the surrounding concrete and lighting are all being replaced around the memorial. Sitting areas are being installed, so that loved ones and friends have a place to sit and memorialize the fallen war heroes from the Korean War.

After this year (2020), the Highlands View Golf Course located at Stodden Park will be one of the most delightful courses in Southwest Montana. A brand-new clubhouse is being built for starters while the old clubhouse is being converted into cart storage, something the Highlands View has never had. The clubhouse will include two golf simulators and a full-service kitchen with a dining area (4,500 square feet).

Also, eleven new tee boxes will be added to the course and existing tee boxes being developed. Also, sand and water (which dual purposes as a stormwater pond) trap features are being implemented into the course design. All existing wells around the course will be updated on top of this work, and a brand new, state-of-the-art irrigation control/system is getting installed. This irrigation controller is so advanced that it can indicate to the groundskeeper whether the course even needs watering or not based on weather forecasts. The entire irrigation/sprinkler system can be controlled from the one controller back at the clubhouse.

Stodden Park will be the centerpiece of Butte's recreational entertainment for years and even decades to come. Since the beginning, WET has been a dedicated and proud key player during the Stodden Park Central Improvement Project. However, this project was not a doing of one company. Many key players came together to make this excellent contribution to the people of Butte, MT. Again, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources. This company and foundation are at the heart of this community, and WET could not be happier to have worked with such a fantastic group.

The Butte-Silver Bow Parks and Recreation division has done a fantastic job representing Butte's citizens in this project every step of the way. J.P. Gallagher (Parks Director), Kelly Dennehy (Park Superintendent), and Bob Lazzari (Recreation and Event Coordinator), and Mark Fisher (Golf Professional) all deserve a special thanks for their contribution in seeing this project move forward. As well, WET would like to thank Dave Palmer (Chief Executive, BSB), Danette Gleason (Budget Director, BSB), Eileen Joyce (County Attorney), and Karen Hassler (Assistant Budget Director) for all of your assistance in seeing that this project was done right by the community's standard.

WET keeps to the motto,

"We win as a team, and we lose as a team."

This project was a winning project, and there were many more players in this team. Other consulting groups include Nathan Steiner with Steiner-Thuesen PLLC, who did a beautiful job with the landscaping, Mike Fussell with Fussell Engineering lit the park up with their electrical expertise, Steve Hinisk who designed the new archway for the Midway Pavilion, DCI Engineers for their structural guidance, and SMA Architects who designed the new clubhouse. We would also like to give very heartfelt thankful to the Veterans Group and a special thanks for the cooperation of Carousel Group. The biggest challenge was keeping the park, carousel, and pool open while all of these was being completed. So, thank you everyone involved with and outside of the project for your support and cooperation!

Stodden Park is something that WET is exceptionally proud of. WET was able to see that the project went above and beyond all expectations by mitigating with project leaders and contractors every step of the way. WET will warrant the work done throughout 2021 before leaving it in the hands of Butte-Silver Bow.