A cross section of Missoula community leaders held a press conference in Bonner Park on Tuesday, July 15, to kick off a campaign supporting a bond to fund parks and trails that will appear on the November ballot. 

Citizens for Parks and Trails group member John O'Connor said they will spend the next four months informing the public about the benefits of upgrading existing parks and trails and building new park facilities.

"We believe we've got four months to help people get over the nervousness of a $42 million bond request," O'Connor said. "The proposed parks and trails bond would authorize a $42 million, 20-year general obligation bond for Missoula City and County parks and trails, including the development of the long-awaited Missoula Regional Park."

photo by Wave Break Media

O'Connor said the Fort Missoula Regional Park will be an economic boon to the city and county.

"One of the components of Fort Missoula Regional Park is to build out the athletic facilities, including a new softball complex and a new multi-use recreation field," he said. " If you look at the economic data from other communities, we'd have the ability to host tornaments, for example. In Kalispell, there's a soccer tournament up there called Three Blind Refs, and it's estimated that over 115 teams participated, and they brought about $1.5 million into the community in one weekend."

O'Connor said new, updated softball facilities could also be a big economic driver.

"The Missoula Softball Association currently has about 3,500 members, and they believe they could about double the number of tournaments they host," he said. "One of our supporters experienced this first-hand while he was living in the Tri-Cities area in Washington State. When they decided to invest in youth sports over there, it made tourism the number two economic driver in that community in less than five years."

The bond would cost the owner of a median-priced home approximately three dollars per month or property taxes, or $37 per year for 20 years.

Citizens for Parks and Trails group member John O'Connor