EAST HELENA — Right now, an 80-acre property on East Helena’s north side looks like a blank canvas. Eventually, though, it will become a park, and Prickly Pear Land Trust is asking the public to weigh in on how they want to see it developed.
“Without that historic trail use out here, we can do whatever the heck we want, and that’s a cool position to be in,” said Nate Kopp, PPLT’s program and trails director.
The parcel, located at the northwest corner of East Helena’s Kennedy Park, is one of two properties the land trust acquired as part of their Prickly Pear Creek Greenway project. It runs on both sides of Prickly Pear Creek and along the east side of Wylie Drive.
The initial goal is to create about a mile and a half of trails on the property, including two main loops. Additional park amenities could come next.
Kopp says it’s important to them to get the local community involved in what they’re doing at the site.
“We believe strongly in the connection between land and people,” he said. “We think if we can get the community of East Helena, the youth of East Helena – we’re right next to the high school, the new schools they’ve built – if we can get people out on the ground out here, that’ll increase their connection to the land and it’ll be more impactful and meaningful in their lives.”
To that end, PPLT has opened an online survey, asking questions that range from what features and amenities people want to see in the new park, to what they need to know about the East Helena community when making their plans – and even to people’s ideas for naming the future trails.
“Let us know a little bit about what you’d like to see out here in the community – what are we missing, what can we make sure to add?” said Kopp.
So far, there’s not a lot to see at the site. Much of the property is currently undergoing soil remediation, to address the ongoing contamination linked to the former ASARCO smelter site. Once that is completed, it will be fully replanted – most likely this spring. Park development can begin after that.
The Greenway project is intended to eventually connect East Helena to Montana City. You can find more information about it on PPLT’s website.