Beattie Street Trailhead changes divide residents

HELENA – Proposed changes to the Beattie Street Trailhead are dividing some residents who live in the area.

Members of the City’s Open Lands Division, Parks and Recreation and the city engineer hosted an open house Tuesday night to discuss plans for adding a new parking lot and bathroom to the trail head.

The presented designs would add upwards of 20 to 30 parks spots to the south on park property. Currently, cars park in a right-of-way at the end of Beattie Street to access the popular Mount Ascension trails.

Survey data released by the city shows the Beattie Trailhead is one of the most popular access points in the city, trailing only behind the Reeders Village trail head that accesses Mount Helena City Park. Helena’s Open Lands Manager Brad Langsather said the Beattie Trailhead has seen even more usage since the last study was conducted in 2004.

However, residents that live in the area can’t seem to agree whether the area truly needs more parking.

Eric Grove currently lives across from the trailhead and has been living in that area for around three decades. Grove said he has seen the area rise in popularity to the point that cars will park near his house because there is not enough spots at the trailhead. Grove said this happens around a dozen times each summer.

“The parking area is not handling the current need, so we would like to see an actual parking area develop,” Grove said.

However, other neighbors are concerned increased paarking might only add to the problem by attracting more visitors.

Susan Lenard, who attended Tuesday’s open house, also lives on Beattie Street and questions whether or not the area is as popular as the city says.

“I see the trailhead everyday. I’ve never seen that parking lot full to overflowing. I’ve seen at most six cars and I’ve actually started taking photo documentation of how busy that trailhead is,” Lenard said.

At most, Lenard said she sees about eight cars if there is an event going on. She said she is not opposed to adding more spots, but finds it unnecessary to the number of spots the city is proposing.

Parks and Recreation Director Amy Teegarden said construction is at least one to two years away. The Parks Department will bring the issue forward to the City Commission who will approve any changes to the trailhead.

Tuesday’s open house is the first of two open houses hosted by the city. The next event is Tuesday Feb. 27 at 5p.m. in room 426 of the City/County Building.