Gallatin Co. Regional Park plans shaped by survey


Gallatin Co. Regional Park plans shaped by survey

BOZEMAN, Mont. - After sifting through hundreds of comments, Gallatin County has hammered out a master plan for a popular Bozeman-area park.

The Gallatin County Regional Park is located between Baxter and Oak on Bozeman's west side and encompasses some 100 acres along Davis Lane.

Last year the county conducted a survey to find out just what residents wanted to see done with the park.

The new master plan lists several changes that could be implemented within the next 5 years. Those include fencing off and landscaping the lake areas, adding new trails and grass and limiting off-leash dogs to a 15-acre section park. Dogs are currently allowed off-leash in the entire park.

In the Gallatin County survey conducted last year, 78 percent of responders said access to parks and recreation was "very important" to their quality of life.

Gallatin County Parks Director Mike Harris took NBC Montana on a tour of the park, saying, "With every penny we're spending they're getting a very good bang for their buck."

Harris says the results of that survey helped shape the master plan going before the Gallatin County commission.

"We did see that there is an importance on access to water and an access for areas for families to play," said Harris.

Over 71 percent of survey responders said use of the park for dogs was "important" or "very important." One-fifth listed walking their dogs as their primary use.

"Definitely there should be access for dogs," explained Harris, "but it was also to be an area for kids and family at the same time."

Planners made a compromise, limiting the off-leash area to 15 acres.

One Bozeman dog owner didn't think 15 acres was enough, saying, "My dog would not appreciate it if she only had 15 acres to run around. So keep it off-leash, please!"

Other users were simply grateful they had a nice park to bring their families.

"I think it's great. Especially when traveling with children. You know, you have to have some way to get them out and get them some exercise," said park visitor Diana Thielman.

The Regional Park doesn't receive general funds from the county and relies on private donations and volunteers.

That's why Harris says the plan aims to serve the greatest amount of people as possible to, "Continue to maintain the area and build new stuff with the people of this community's assistance and backing."

The plan will go before county commissioners next Tuesday. Any regulatory changes, like restricting off-leash dogs, would need to be approved separately.

If the plan is approved the county would need to find funding to pay for many of the changes.

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