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Great Falls

Jan 6, 2012 7:50 PM by Kay Rossi (Great Falls)

"Pocket park" in downtown Great Falls being revitalized

A "pocket park" in downtown Great Falls has been locked up for more than a year because it's unsafe, but even before it was locked up, downtown resident Melissa Smylie says she wouldn't bring her kids here.

Melissa explained, "We wouldn't let our kids play in here when it was open, because it's not safe. It hasn't been for a while."

The playground, which has been around since the 1970's, is becoming more and more weathered, with chipped paint, exposed concrete, and an increasing amount of harmful litter like glass and cigarette butts.

Now, a partnership between Rural Dynamics Incorporated and architectural firm L'Heureux Page Werner aims to breathe new life into the park.

Jolene Bach of Rural Dynamics said, "Our goal is to make a fun, creative, imaginative outdoor play space."

Dani Cloutier of L'Heureux Page Werner agreed, saying, "We really just want to set up a great, safe, happy and friendly environment."

At just 800 square feet, the little park may not look like much, but to more than 60 children who live in the area, when it's done, it will mean a world of difference.

The nearby Roberts Apartment Complex houses more than 200 residents, more than a quarter of whom are children under the age of 13.

Melissa said, "Our kids would have so much opportunity to get exercise, fresh air!"

Plans call for a basketball hoop, new playground equipment, trees and shrubs, new flooring and murals on surrounding buildings, all at a cost of about $90,000.

Bach noted, "There's local businesses that have already donated some of the supplies and are doing some in-kind contributions."

The newly-renovated park is expected to be open by the summer, and is the first of several improvements to come from a Downtown Master Plan that was approved by the City Commission last year.

The park is located in alley behind the Roberts Apartments off of 6th Street and Central Avenue.

If anyone is interested in helping through donations or time, they can contact Bach at 761-8721.

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