HELENA – The City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County are in search of consultants to develop a comprehensive plan for area parks and open spaces.

According to City Parks and Recreation Director Amy Teegarden, the city has outgrown the current plan which was updated by city staff in 2009.

Helena has thousands of acres of parks and open lands, and it’s up to a joint city-county park board to manage them. The department oversees many of Helena’s popular attractions, including Bill Roberts Golf Course, Last Chance Splash Park, the iconic Fire Tower and more.

According to Teegarden, since the 2009 update, the department has implemented the redevelopment of Centennial Park, created more hiking trails, added connectivity between trails along with other projects. Now, a comprehensive plan is necessary to outline future goals.

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“It’s time to really take a look from top to bottom on what we should be doing, what are our levels of service, how we plan for the future in providing parks and recreation opportunities,” Teegarden said.

The department is looking to hire a consulting firm by February that will compile two separate plans – one for the city and one for the county. Teegarden said the plans will look very similar.

“Whether you live in the city or you live in the county, we live, work and play as one big community. So it only makes sense to combine our planning efforts so we can look at the Helena area from a larger perspective,” Teegarden said.

The plans will outline new goals as well as old ones that have yet to be completed, like a new indoor aquatic center and more field space for various sports. The new plans will also be heavily influenced by the public.

“The plan will also incorporate a lot of public involvement and feedback through surveys and public meetings and other mechanisms,” Teegarden said.

Teegarden said she hopes to have a finished comprehensive plan in hand a year from now. The deadline for consulting firms to apply with qualifications to compile the report is Dec. 12.

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