Proximity park to be built in Old Town Helena

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – A new small park featuring a 15-foot historical clock, park benches and bike rack is set to be built next to the Caboose Welcome Center in Helena.

The park was proposed by Helena City Councilmember Chris VanCleave, and received a unanimous vote of approval at the council’s meeting on April 12.

“Folks tend to describe communities with attractive, and convenient park spaces as being restorative, active, and friendly. We want to encourage people to come and stay a while in Helena,” VanCleave said. “Whether for the day, or to relocate here, we want to create a welcoming space. The proximity park will do just that and the addition of the historical clock will be a focal point add to the charm of old town for generations to come.”

The proposal was the product of discussions on how to revitalize the Old Town Helena area. With many visitors coming to this area for the park, the trains and the entertainment district, VanCleave said that it made sense to add a place where people could sit down and take in the whole area.

With the approval of the project, the city is set to purchase and install a 15 foot “Historical City of Helena Clock,” two 6-foot park benches and a bike rack for guests to park at.

“It is a great and vibrant place to be, but there are not a lot of places to hang out,” said Councilmember Laura Joseph. “This park would be a great place for them to go out and get something to eat, refocus and hang out. It is very needed in Old Town.”

“Many studies of neighborhood parks have indicated that a park’s convenience is a key to its benefits. Proximity parks can serve communities in many ways,” according to Helena Mayor Brian Puckett. “I look forward to seeing this effort completed.”

According to Puckett these benefits include an increase surrounding property values, provide easier access for neighbors and friends to gather, provide opportunities for physical activity, encourage residents to get out and enjoy nature and each other and stimulate the local economy by attracting visitors.

VanCleave’s proposal asked for $40,000 to complete the project, but estimated that the actual cost would be close to $36,000.