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Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Summary The Billings Parks, Recrea on, and Public Lands Department’s budget comes from four major sources: General Fund Contribu ons, 35 Park Maintenance Districts (PMD), the City-Wide Park District, and Fees and Charges. As stewards of public funds, the department strives to operate efficiently and effec vely to best use the resources available.

Where does the money come from? ($8,831,441)

City-wide Park District (23%)

12% 23%

Special Fund (5%) 14% General Fund Contribu on (46%) 5%

General Fund Revenue (14%) 35 Individual PMDs (12%)


The Parks, Recrea on and Public Lands Department’s Budget represents only 3% of the City’s total budget Where does the money go? ($10,945,926) Urban Forestry (3%) 3% 4%

Cemetery (4%) 4%

Administration (4%) 8% 2% 3%



Park Special Funds (8%) Senior Services (2%) Aquatics (3%) Recreation (7%)


Capital Improvement Projects (28%) Parks (41%)


Organizational Chart Parks, Recreation & Public Lands Dept. Director: Michael Whitaker Customer Service Coordinator

Administra ve Support II

Volunteer Coordinator

Park Planner Park Police OďŹƒcer


Parks & Urban Forestry

Recrea on & Senior Services

Cemetery Superintendent

Parks Superintendent

Recrea on Superintendent

(3) Equipment Operator/Maintenance Workers

(2) Recrea on Specialist Forestry/Natural Resource Supervisor

Parks Supervisor

Senior Services Specialist Admin. Support I

(1.5) Arborist

Facility Main nence Support II


Area 1 Sr. Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

Area 2 Sr. Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

Area 3 Sr. Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

Area 4 Sr. Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

(1) Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

(1.5) Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

(1) Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

(2) Equip. Operator/ Maintenance Worker

Area55 Area Sr. Equp. Equip. Sr. Operator/ Operator/ Maintenance Maintenance WorkerWorker Playground Safety Inspector

Weekend Sr. Equipment Operator/ Maintenance Worker Equip. Operator/ Maint. Worker (Mechanic)

PARKS By the Numbers:

91% of households say parks are essen al

1913 The year that South Park was dedicated

60% of households used trails in 2017

85% of Billings’ residents rate the park system as good or excellent

2.2 Million Visitors to major Billings parks annually

2,555 Acres or 111,295,800 Square Feet of land is managed and maintained by Billings Parks and Recrea on Department

Riverfront Park:


Parks and Public Lands Divison Overview Since the founding of Billings in 1882, parks and open spaces have played a major role in the life of the city. South park was dedicated in 1913, and the Park system con nues to grow to this day. Almost 10% of the land area of the city is set aside for Parks for the public to enjoy and recreate in. Parks vary in size and func on from large, community parks like Castle Rock, Pioneer and North, to smaller neighborhood parks like Trails End, Ponderosa, and Francis. Parks serve many different func ons and management varies accordingly. Some Parks like South, Veterans and Stewart are landscaped, irrigated and intensively maintained, while others, like Riverfront, Cameron, and Swords are there to provide a semi-natural se ng that provides habitat for wildlife and a “nature experience”. With this mix, the Park System provides a variety of experiences from intensive organized sports in places like Amend Park to a solitary hike along the Rims or the Yellowstone River. Gone are the days when Parks were just a place for picnics and horseshoes. Besides providing scenic beauty, Parks serve as sites for scien fic inquiry and educa onal opportunity, contribute environmental benefits like oxygen produc on and filtering par culates from the air and provide a vast array of recrea onal opportuni es for almost everyone's interests and abili es. The Parks and Public Lands Division is proud to commit themselves to providing parks, open space and natural areas that enrich the quality of life for all of Billings residents and visitors.

Park Lands Management & Maintenance

Community Partnerships & Events

Core Services

Environmental Stewardship & Conserva on 6

Facility Management & Maintenance

Heritage Trail Management & Maintenance

Park Lands Management and Maintenance

Open Lands and Parks are a cri cal part of a vibrant healthy community. Since 1913 when the ďŹ rst park was dedicated, we have been crea ng and maintaining Billing's public space and protec ng the environment. Today woven throughout the city are 2,555 acres of park land. The Parks and Public Lands Division uses modern science to maintain and prepare these spaces for public use. Integrated management prac ces like soil tests and targeted pes cide applica ons and precise irriga on prac ces are used to safely and eďŹƒciently keep the parks healthy, whether it is in a developed park like Op mist or in an undeveloped park like Pow Wow. The 2,555 acres consists of 875 acres of developed parks such as Sacajawea park and 1,680 acres of undeveloped and natural area parks like Riverfront. The diversity in the parks system provides for a wide variety of ac vi es and experiences.



During the summer season, staff operate over 120 irriga on systems which draw water from irriga on canals, 26 wells and city water services. In 2017, 273,714,840 gallons of water from irriga on canals and wells were used to irrigate parks saving $808,602 in City water costs. In 2017, over 37,984,320 square feet of parkland, the equivalent of 4,748 average sized residen al lots, were mowed each week. In 2017, 281 acres of turf grass were sprayed for nuisance weeds, such as dandelions, keeping parks weedfree and beau ful, while minimizing herbicide use. In 2017, 47,700 pounds of turf grass fer lizer were applied in Billings Parks. In 2017, staff plowed and removed snow at 93 loca ons throughout Billings including sidewalks, parking lots, park roads and 43 miles of the Heritage Trail. In 2017, a new automated irriga on system was installed in Veterans Park which draws water from the Billings Bench Irriga on Canal. In 2017, irriga on pump sta ons were rebuilt making them 20% more efficient in electrical usage. 8

Facility and Building Management & Maintenance The Billings park system has a wide array of facili es and buildings in order to serve the public’s varied interests. The Parks Division is responsible for the management and maintenance of all of the facili es and buildings listed below.

2017 Notable Facility Accomplishments: Ÿ Added fall protec on to 25

park playgrounds to create a safer playground surface Ÿ Facilitated 90 rentals at Rose Park Shelter Ÿ Ensured that all park maintenance staff became cer fied pes cide applicators Ÿ Facilitated 26 Sound Stage Rentals

Park Facilites and Amenites: 6 neighborhood centers 1 professional baseball stadium 4 splash pads 41 playgrounds

140 water services to buildings and irriga on systems 1 skate park 1 dog park 22 sports fields

14 picnic shelters available for reserva on

22 baseball fields

26 tennis courts

16 so ball fields

25 basketball courts

4 disc golf courses

21 restrooms

3 sand volleyball courts 9

Heritage Trail Management & Maintenance The Heritage Trail now consists of 43 miles of paved mul -use trails throughout the community, 10 miles of mapped and maintained so surface trails and many miles of undedicated informal trails in natural area parks. As the Heritage Trail system develops throughout the Billings community, it will provide recrea onal opportuni es as well as an alternate transporta on corridor. Benches, picnic tables, shelters, trailheads, signage and restrooms are in place or being added to enhance the trail. Trails in Swords Rimrock Park

60% of Billings’ households reported that someone in their household used the trail system in 2017. 85% of users rated the trails system as good to excellent.

In 2017: Ÿ Mowing trail edges in natural area parks was completed once per month during the growing season. Ÿ Hard surface trails were swept four mes during the summer. Ÿ Snow was removed on all paved mul -use trails throughout the winter months. Ÿ The so surface trail at Phipps Park was rerouted to a safer loca on Ÿ The trail system was checked daily for trash, graffi and other poten al problems.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Billings 10

Environmental Stewardship & Conservation

The Parks Divisions' role in environmental stewardship and conserva on is broad, on-going, mul -faceted and mandated by the Billings Municipal Code. City Ordinance Sec on 19-203. Nature preserves states: All property under control of the city as park property and all dedicated parks are designated and declared to be nature preserves. City Ordinance Sec on 19-204. Future development states: Overall park development shall retain natural areas for the study and enjoyment of plants and animals in a natural environment to the extent consistent with park and public needs. Where terrain and accessibility are factors, the preserva on of natural areas shall be a prime factor in park development.

In 2017: Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ




There were 1,242 acres of natural area parks in the City of Billings. Weeds were mowed at 51 proper es throughout Billings. Through a partnership with the Yellowstone County Weed Management District, noxious weeds were sprayed in many park loca ons. Park staff used Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to manage weeds, insects and other pests in Billings Parks. This means that we used pes cides sparingly along with other cultural methods to reduce weed and insect problems In 2017, 12 staff became Cer fied Pes cide Applicators through the Montana Department of Agriculture's Pes cide Cer fica on program. Over 24 acres of parkland were used for storm deten on basins to temporarily hold water during rain storms.


Community Partnerships & Events The Parks Division works with over 65 Partners to provide parks, facili es, personnel, equipment and resources to support and facilitate hundreds of ac vi es, events and programs for tens of thousands of park users each year. 180

Park Use Permit by Year







140 141 120 100 80 76 60 61 40 20 0 2012




86% of Billings’ residents visit parks annually 12

Below are some examples of the support the Parks Division provides to various groups that host events and programs within the park system. Ÿ



The Park Maintenance Division provided staff and resources to support soccer, baseball, so ball, football, lacrosse, rugby and other team sports on 22 athle c fields, 22 baseball fields and 16 so ball fields located in Billings Parks. Many large events took place in City parks including Symphony in The Park, Saturday Live, Summerfair, Billings All Original Car Show and the Celebrate Freedom 4th of July event. Many large sport events occurred in City Parks such as Big Sky State Games, the Montana Marathon, Montana Youth Soccer Associa on State Tournament, Heart and Sole Run and High School and University Cross Country track meets. We renewed our Partnership with the Billings soccer community in management and maintenance of the Amend Park Soccer Complex. Working with volunteers, we facilitated two community gardens. In partnership with Riverstone Health, we co-sponsored the South Park Farmers Market during the summer months. Through a coopera ve agreement with Montana State University we brought Shakespeare in the Parks to Pioneer Park. The NCAA Division II Regional Cross Country races were held at Amend Park. 110 teams with 450 par cipants competed.

In 2017, the Park Division facilitated 853 events in Parks


URBAN FORESTRY By the Numbers:

9,509 Trees in park inventory

2 Trash for tree bins refurbished

95 Trees planted

59 Weed complaints abated

22.4% Homeowners that cut weeds a er receiving code enforcement no ce

$6,075 Generated from weed abatement program

1,558 Trees pruned

95 Trees removed

19.2% 14

of trees in the Park system are ash

Urban Forestry Introduction

Trees improve peoples' sense of well-being, civic pride and quality of life, and quan fiable economic, environmental and health benefits accrue to individuals and to society as a result of living within a well-managed urban forest. With that in mind, the Urban Forestry / Natural Resources Division takes care of trees in city-owned and maintained parks, natural areas, golf courses and at Mountview Cemetery. In these, we plant, mulch, and fence (to protect from deer and other animals) newly planted and young trees, and we remove trees or branches that threaten public safety on older trees. We are par cularly proud that we prune all of our trees on a recurring basis with 3- and 7-year return intervals, for small and large trees respec vely. This “cyclical” pruning plan to pro-ac vely prune trees on a normalized schedule is a “best management prac ce” few other ci es have adopted that keeps Billings' trees healthy AND reduces maintenance costs over me as compared to a reac ve approach to tree care. 15

Two 2017 Urban Forestry Focus Areas Wildlife Habitat Trees Trees provide habitat for wildlife, so this year we ini ated a program to specifically designate dead and dying trees as habitat trees. When trees die, their bark and wood become so er over me allowing cavity nes ng birds to build homes. Insects will inhabit dead trees providing food for many bird species. In nature, dead wood from standing trees provides cri cal habitat for wildlife and this habitat is usually lacking in ci es. We have so far marked a dozen trees with a “wildlife habitat tag.” We will track and monitor these trees over me to see how snags are u lized and by what species. And the signs will let the public know that we have not forgo en about a dead tree but that that tree is performing a vital func on for which it has been purposefully le .

Small tree training is done every winter to develop good structure and eliminate problems as trees get older. This creates a safer and more healthy tree. Emerald Ash Borer We con nue to plan for the probable, eventual arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Most people by now know that the EAB was accidentally introduced to the United States from Asia to a port on the Great Lakes and it has spread inexorably from there. The EAB causes 100% mortality of all ash trees except those treated in control programs using techniques that can keep the EAB at bay for a while, but at a significant cost in me and money. The EAB has by now killed tens of millions of ash trees in the parts of the United States it has reached. The best strategy available to us to ready our urban forest for the onslaught, is to increase tree species diversity and pro-ac vely remove ash trees. Removing ash trees has two aspects to it that will help us prepare. First, we are reducing some of the target trees that EAB would be expected to kill, taking them out on our terms in an orderly manner. Secondly, we are pu ng the wood from these trees up for sale, helping to build up a co age industry of woodworkers who will be able to u lize the wood from trees to create jobs, increase the tax base and hopefully create dis nc ve Billings wood products that will reflect on Billings as posi vely as will our revitalized and diversified urban forest. 16

EAB Targets: Ÿ 1,827 ash trees managed

by Forestry Division Ÿ 19.2 % of trees in Parks

system are ash trees Ÿ 1,070 total trees in

Mountview Cemetery Ÿ 317 ash trees in Mountview

Cemetery Ÿ 29.6 % of trees at the

Mountview Cemetery are ash

RECREATION By the Numbers:

6,245 Program par cipants

$231,825 Program revenue increase since 2012

60% of opera ng costs recovered

5,566 Meals served at the Billings Community & Senior Center

40,000 Visits to Rose and South Park Pools

137 Unique recrea on programs oered

$4,159 Youth scholarships oered to low-income families

95% of programs recovered all direct costs 17

Recreation Division Introduction

The Recrea on Division experienced an outstanding year, full of growth and success. In 2017, the City of Billings Recrea on Division celebrated its best year to date, breaking old records in par cipa on numbers, class offerings, and revenue generated. The division offers recrea onal programs ranging from special interest classes, adult sports, youth sports and youth camps to early learning programs and ac ve older adult programs. The wide range of ac vi es the Recrea on Division offers ensures there are opportuni es for par cipants of all ages. The Recrea on staff take pride in providing affordable programs that are accessible to all members of the community. The Recrea on Division staff is always looking to add programs that fit the needs of the community. We have con nued to expand offerings by adding exci ng new programs such as Youth NFL Flag football and Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga, as well as maintaining the old favorites like City League Basketball. Staff strive to provide all encompassing, high quality programs that are fun, safe, and affordable. With the support of the Billings community, 2017 was an excep onal year full of fun, learning, and adventures. It is our pleasure to share with the City of Billings, a breakdown of our year. The following pages are a look at our programs! 18

Recreation Programs During 2017, there were 6,245 total program par cipants. The chart below provides a descrip on of how the par cipa on is divided up. Please note that Aqua c Programs percentage does not include pool admissions.

Recrea on Program Breakdown 3%

5% Ac ve Aging Adults 18%

Adult Sports Fitness 29%

Aqua cs Programs


Special Interest Youth Camps Outdoor Recrea on Youth Sports


Early Learning 4%



The Recrea on Division oers 137 unique programs annually.


Recreation Revenue by Year $500,000 $459,907 $450,000 $400,000 $350,000 $300,000 $250,000


$200,000 $150,000 $100,000 $50,000 $2012

The Recrea on Division has seen sizeable growth in recent years. We have con nued to expand our oerings to the community to provide an extensive range of programs and services for toddlers through aging adults. Due to the increase in programs and par cipa on, we have been able to increase our program revenue by $231,825 since 2012. The totals in the graph include aqua c programs and lessons as well as administra ve service fees.


The Recrea on Division employs over 200 seasonal and temporary employees annually

Youth Scholarships The Billings Parks and Recrea on Department is pleased to have a community partner like the Billings Parks, Recrea on, and Preserva on founda on that provides youth scholarships for under-priveledged children to par cipate in Parks and Recrea on Programs. In 2017, the founda on provided $4,159 in scholarships that allowed 134 kids to par cipate in programs they may not have been able to aord otherwise. 20

Recreation Revenue and Spending The Recrea on Division is able to recover nearly 60% of it’s opera ng costs by collec ng fees for programs and facili es.

FY 2017 Revenue 0%




Ba ng Cages-$33,018 Recrea on Programs-$386,252 Administra ve Services-$21,875 Aqua cs-$239,260

32% 52%

Senior Services-$34,361 Vending Machines-$1,028 Building Rentals-$23,870


95% of recrea on programs are self-sustaining (cover all direct costs)

FY 2017 Expenses 2%

2% Ba ng Cages-$24,245

16% 29%

Recrea on Programs$372,199 Administra on-$324,239 Aqua cs-$324,153

25% Senior Services-$198,084 26%

Facili es-$26,179 21


The Recrea on Division oversees the staffing and opera ons of the Rose Park and South Park pools, as well as the Pioneer Park and Hawthorne Park wading pools. We employ 50-60 lifeguards annually, all of which receive rigorous American Red Cross Lifeguard and CPR/ AED training before the pools open. We ensure each guard receives the proper training they need to respond to any situa on that arises. This year, our lifeguards supervised nearly 40,000 visitors at Rose and South Park pools and thousands more visitors at Pioneer Park and Hawthorne Park wading pools. In 2017, we celebrated our third annual Dog Days of Summer on the closing day of the pool with much success.

Ÿ $239,260 total Ÿ Ÿ



revenue $24,540 in season passes sold $35,259 in waterslide wristbands sold $44,158 in concessions sold 11,352 waterslide users 563 par cipants enrolled in swim lessons

Aquatics Facilities Pioneer Park wading pool and Hawthorne Park wading pool operate free of charge for the public to use. These facili es are extremely popular for small children, and widely used by day care programs throughout the community. Both of the wading pools are staed by 2 lifeguards during hours of opera on. Around 90 seasonal aqua c employees are employed at the aqua c facili es annually. Many of these employees are School District 2 employees, college students, and high school students. We see a high reten on rate of returning employees every year.

190 reduced price pool passes were sold in 2017 to help residents in lowincome households cool o on our hot summer days Images clockwise star ng with the top le : Rose Park pool, South Park pool, Hawthorne Park wading pool, Pioneer Park wading pool.

In 2017, Rose Park Pool and South Park Pool had nearly 40,000 combined visitors 23

Strike Zone Batting Cages 2017 was a good year for the Strike Zone Ba ng Cages. The new pitching equipment, installed in 2014 using funds from the City Wide Park District, provides more consistent pitches and a be er ba ng experience. Ba ers can choose between pitch speeds ranging from a slow lob to a 70 mph fastball. Highlights: Ÿ 22,012 tokens sold Ÿ $33,018 generated Ÿ 330,180 pitches

Senior Services

Since 1969, the Recrea on division has provided life-long recrea on opportuni es for adults 55 years and older in Billings. Over the years, many of these programs have been held at our main facility, the Billings Community & Senior Center, since its doors opened in 1978. However, these programs and services transcend the Senior Center and disburse into the parks and even into various trips throughout Montana. 24

2017 Senior Services Highlights: Ÿ 19,429 visits to the

center Ÿ 9 new senior programs

created Ÿ 5,566 meals were served

on site through a partnership with the Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County Ÿ 5,436 volunteer hours of

service valued at $131,219 Ÿ 192 riders on the senior

lights tour

A wide variety of programs and services are available at the Billings Community and Senior Center. These include exercise classes, computer classes, games, hobby clubs, reduced or free health clinics, and so much more. In 2017, there were over 19,429 visits to the Billings Community and Senior Center and the department created 9 new programs. One of the popular new programs was Coffee Conversa ons which is an early morning walk through Swords Rimrock Park. The group walked approximately 2 miles and finished with coffee and socializa on. Each week a new expert guest speaker was invited to walk along with the group. These speakers included a local Physical Therapist, Medicare/Medicaid Specialist, an Author, Historian, Die an, Naturopath and many more. Coffee Conversa ons met its capacity throughout the en re summer. Another program added in 2017 was a Senior Trip to the Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, MT in which Parks and Recrea on shu led 20 par cipants in two buses to enjoy a day trip that included walking and touring large-scale outdoor art exhibits on a working ranch.


Senior programs have seen great success in the last year. Many programs have reached maximum capacity including the ever-popular Strong and Fit class which has increased in par cipa on by 75% with 95% of par cipants sta ng that they felt the class was Above Average! It has also been great to see the community taking an interest in giving back to seniors. The Billings Community and Senior Center was selected as a volunteer site for the United Way Day of Caring in 2017 and over 20 volunteers helped paint the interior of the center and began some landscaping outside. Addi onally, there have been various visits from schools and holiday events provided by service groups such as the Billings Breakfast Exchange Club and the Billings Jaycees. One of these holiday programs included the Senior Tour of Lights which hit an all- me high in par cipa on with 192 riders. There are a variety of other partnerships that benefit seniors. One such partnership involved 4 classes taught in conjunc on with the MSU Extension of Yellowstone County. Also, 92 foot care pa ents were treated at clinics offered twice per month by a Cer fied Foot Care Nurse through Senior Wellness. Addi onally, 97 clients were seen during free wellness clinics provided by the MSU Bozeman nursing students, and 30 flu shots were administered at a Flu Shot Clinic provided in partnership with RiverStone Health. Parks and Recrea on was excited to get involved with the community-wide Senior Sports and Art Week by providing a loca on for the popular Bingo event and providing the site for the Cra s and Fine Arts display and awards ceremony. We are excited to say that seniors report enjoying our programs year-round. Collec vely, 93% of par cipants that completed evalua ons of the programs said that they would be very likely to par cipate in a future Parks and Recrea on Senior Program.

93% of par cipants that took program surveys said they would be “very likely” to par cipate in future Parks and Recrea on Senior Programs 26

Senior programs and services are certainly enhanced by a formal partnership with the Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County. It is through this partnership that the City received $40,000 from the Senior Mill Levy to support senior services. Also through this partnership, an affordable and nutri ous lunch is made available Monday through Friday. In 2017, 5,566 meals were served onsite at the Billings Community & Senior Center. In addi on to the meal program, through this partnership, 66 senior volunteers were sta oned at the Center by the Alliance Volunteer Program. These volunteers fill a variety of posi ons, including gree ng, chairing ac vi es, office aid, assis ng with meals, and more. In 2017, these volunteers provided 5,436 hours of service equa ng to a financial impact of $131,219.04.



1,847 Total volunteers

7,224 Total hours volunteered

$174,399 Financial impact

13 Eagle Scout projects

1 New community garden developed

$4,000 Shade Structure Grant

$18,000 Funds raised for Arbor Day and Community Gardens

7,606 lbs of produce harvested at the community garden 28

Volunteer cleaning graďŹƒ o the Rims

Refresh the Rims 2017

Outreach Introduction The Parks and Recrea on Department formally began a volunteer program in 2013 when the Volunteer Coordinator was hired. The program began with the focus of connec ng community members to volunteer experiences in the Parks and Recrea on Department. The du es quickly evolved into the broader focus of community outreach. The outreach program includes special events, volunteer projects and programs, community garden oversight, grant wri ng and fundraising. These eorts are in coopera on with the other divisions of the Parks and Recrea on Department. Through these community engagement eorts, ci zens have the chance to learn more about the department’s mission while ge ng involved through volunteerism.

Volunteers help clean 28 on the rims trails


Volunteer Programs & Projects 2017 was a very successful year for volunteer projects. There were 1,847 volunteers who completed 7,224 hours of service. Volunteer Projects and Programs are divided into the following key areas: Ÿ

Special Events- The two major special events during the year are Arbor Day and Refresh the Rims. Arbor Day is a celebra on of trees that includes park improvement projects and educa on for 450 local fourth graders. In 2017, Arbor Day was celebrated at Veteran’s Park. Arbor Day had 183 volunteers who contributed 1,198 hours of service. Refresh the Rims is a large park and trail cleanup held at various loca on on the Rims. In 2017, there were 158 volunteers who contributed 428 hours of service at Refresh the Rims.


Volunteer Groups- Volunteer groups make up the bulk of the projects that take place during the year. Some of the volunteer groups include: churches, service clubs, athle c teams, corporate volunteers and the universi es. They complete projects throughout the park system. Their projects vary from pain ng structures and graffi removal to plan ng trees and working at the community gardens.

Arbor Day 2017


Eagle Scout Projects- Eagle Scout Projects are an increasing part of the volunteer program. In 2017, there were 13 scouts that completed their Eagle Project with the Parks Department. The projects ranged from tree plan ng to shade structure construc on.


Park Ranger and Bike Patrol Volunteers- The Volunteer Patrols work from May through September patrolling the parks, repor ng issues and serving as park ambassadors.


Volunteers build a shade structure

Community Gardens Amend Park Community Garden: The Amend Park Community Garden was started in 2014. It began with 26 plots and harvested just over 700lbs of produce the ďŹ rst season. In 2017, the gardeners used 47 plots and harvested 4,206lbs of produce. The garden featured a series of guest speakers that taught classes on canning and preserving, common garden problems and water conserva on. The garden received a nearly $4,000 grant from the Lucky’s Founda on to construct benches and a shade structure.

Songbird Community Garden: A er a year of planning and fundraising, the Songbird Community Garden opened in the summer of 2017. The Songbird Advisory Commi ee raised over $14,000 to make the project a reality. Gardeners u lized 32 plots during the 2017 season. This ďŹ rst year, other notable accomplishments included drilling a well, building a shade structure and raised beds.

Between the Amend Park Community Garden and the Songbird Community Garden, over 7,600lbs of produce was harvested in 2017 31

PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTION 2017 Projects: South Park Splash Pad Yellowstone Kelly’s Interpre ve Site Op mist Park Master Plan Hawthorne Park Playground Replacement Veteran’s Park Irriga on System Replacement Poly Vista Park Master Plan Parks, Recrea on and Open Space Master Plan Rose Park Pool Opera ons Building Replacement


Planning and Construction Overview The Billings Parks and Recrea on Department had a number of projects that either began this year or were completed. Some projects were deferred maintenance items while others were accomplished through public/private partnerships enabling the Parks and Recrea on Department to complete these projects through the funding they provided. The following are a list of these projects in 2017.

Current Projects: South Park Splash Pad (shown below) This project will build an in-ground splash pad with water jets that shoot into the air to varying heights for users to splash and recreate in, great for cooling o during hot summer months! This splash pad is designed to recirculate the water through Ultra Violet and chlorina on sanita on systems in the same way a swimming pool is operated. This will provide clean water and is at the same me environmentally responsible by reducing water use. It is an cipated this project will be completed summer of 2018.


Yellowstone Kelly Interpre ve Site Overlooking the City of Billings atop Swords Rimrock Park is the final res ng place of “Yellowstone” (Luther Sage) Kelly. Yellowstone Kelly was born in 1849 and spent a major part of his life in the military as a scout and explorer in the Dakotas and Montana. His dying request was to be buried in Montana. Upon his death in 1928 he was interred at the present loca on on the highest ridge in Swords Rimrock Park. Over the years the site fell into disrepair. Approximately four years ago the Parks and Recrea on Department partnered with the Billings Chamber of Commerce to make improvements and raise funds for the restora on of his grave site and develop a suitable interpreta ve loca on to showcase the life of this fron ersman and military veteran. Work got underway in earnest the first part of April of 2017 and was completed in September of 2017. A ribbon cu ng ceremony took place September 28th, 2017. The site is open to the public and provides visitors with insights into the life and adventures of Yellowstone Kelly in the fron er west.

Op mist Park Master Plan (shown le ) Through a partnership with the South Billings Urban Renewal Associa on (SBURA), the managing board of the South Billings Tax Increment Financing District, the SBURA provided half of the funding necessary to complete a master plan study for Op mist Park which was approved by the City Council January 23, 2017. It looks at the en re park to find ways to be er serve the adjacent neighborhoods, to be more efficient in opera ons and improve the user experience. Shortly a er approval the SBURA Board allocated funding to the Parks and Recrea on Department to make improvements to parking at the north end of the park. Plans and specifica ons were developed and the project was bid in September. The contractor started immediately on the construc on and made good progress un l the winter weather halted opera ons for the season. As soon as the weather breaks the contractor will complete their work for the new parking lot to be used for the upcoming baseball season. It is an cipated that this new parking facility will add addi onal parking capacity while providing improved vehicle safety coming to and from the park. 34

Hawthorne Park Playground Hawthorne Park Playground Improvements Located east of Main Street and North of Wicks Lane, Hawthorne Park is a very popular Neighborhood Park that has been in existence since the 1950's. The exis ng playground has been a popular des na on for youngsters, but it has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. In early 2016 PRPL Sta applied for and won a $125,000 grant from the Land Water Conserva on Fund (LWCF) to assist in the replacement and upgrade of new playground equipment. In April of 2017, the State Fish Wildlife and Parks (who administers the federal LWCF funds) provided approval to the Parks and Recrea on Department to begin the project. Sta has been working on the layout of the playground to develop a facility that is ADA-accessible and inclusive for all children irrespec ve of their abili es and limita ons. In February of 2018 the equipment will be ordered and as soon as it arrives and the weather is conducive, installa on of the new equipment will begin. It is an cipated the playground improvements will be installed and ready for summer outdoor ac vi es. Veterans Park Irriga on System Replacement A new irriga on system was installed at Veterans Park replacing a 1972 era manual system that required an a endant to plug sprinkler heads into couplers and monitor the watering process. The new state of the art automa c system and pump sta on allows for night watering, freeing up the park for recrea onal ac vi es and park use during the day.

Veterans Park


91% of residents agree that Parks and Recrea on is an essen al service in Billings

Poly Vista Park Master Plan (shown above) A master plan for Poly Vista was completed in the summer of 2017. This is another example of a public/private partnership. The Landon's Legacy Founda on approached the Parks and Recrea on Department seeking a place to establish a Miracle League baseball field and an inclusive playground. The Miracle League is an organiza on that assists communi es in developing baseball fields designed for children with limited abili es to play the game. This ball field is designed to be completely accessible. The inclusive playground will be designed to be ADA-accessible and allow children of all abili es to play together. The Landon's Legacy Founda on raised the majority of the funding to do the Master Plan and con nues to raise money to build the Miracle League field and playground with a goal of raising 1.5 million dollars. As soon as funding is available we will begin the development of these two facili es. 36

Parks, Recrea on and Open Space Comprehensive Plan (shown right) The Parks and Recrea on Department has completed a comprehensive study looking at all aspects of opera ons and services provided by the department. The goal of this study is to analyze how the Department is operated, what kinds of services are provided, what trends and opportuni es are coming in the future and ways it can be more eďŹƒcient and provide be er quality of services and experiences for the public. This study included an extensive outreach program seeking comments, ideas and insights into the recrea onal and park needs of the community including a sta s cally valid survey, focus groups, interviews and public mee ngs. The plan was approved and adopted by the City Council in November, 2017, and will be the Department's guiding document moving forward for the next 10 to 15 years.

Rose Park Pool Opera ons Building Replacement (shown above) In March of 2016, arson par ally destroyed the Rose Park Pool Building. This prompted the Parks and Recrea on Department to move a planned replacement study to the top of the projects list. It was determined that it would be more cost eec ve to replace the exis ng building instead of repairing and upgrading it to meet current building codes and accessibility standards. Plans were developed and the project was successfully bid this past August. Construc on is currently under way with a planned grand opening June, 2018, in me for the summer pool season. 37

CEMETERY By the Numbers:

111 Total burials and columbaria services

43 Total grave spaces sold

$91,427 Total revenue generated

318 The approximate number of ash trees in the cemetery

65 Total acres

1,091 Total trees


Cemetery Introduction The City of Billings Mountview Cemetery is a historical cemetery receiving its ďŹ rst burial in 1882, a year before it was pla ed as a cemetery. It is the largest and oldest con nually operated cemetery in the region. It was, at one point, the only opera ng cemetery in Billings, but now is just one of ten Billings cemeteries. Mountview's mission has been, and con nues to be, to strive to provide a meaningful, economical service to the ci zens of Billings, MT.

The Cemetery is used by walkers and joggers throughout the year Mountview Cemetery Total Burials 140 120 100 80



81 71


60 40 53 20








0 2013

2014 Casketed



Mountview Cemetery Graves Sold 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2013





Graves purchased for at-need use Graves purchased for future use Graves put on contract for deed

The Mountview Cemetery provides a beau ful surrounding for the grieving public as well as casual visitors, walkers and joggers. We have started the process of thinning the green ash trees in prepara on for the Emerald Ash Borer that is described in more detail in the Forestry sec on of the report. Nearly 30% of all trees in Mountview Cemetery are ash trees. As the current ash trees are being removed, new trees of different species are being planted to replace them. The cemetery office sold 43 grave spaces which was a decline from the previous year. Staff also fielded countless requests for grave loca ons and informa on about the people buried in Mountview Cemetery. Volunteers con nue to assist the Cemetery Superintendent with the work of upda ng the cemetery records database.


Memorial Day

PARK POLICE A Message from Officer Lam Billings parks are public spaces that are a key part of our local active lifestyle. Residents and visitors recreate, play sports, meet with family, and bring children to play on the state-of-the-art playgrounds here. Billings is fortunate to have an abundance of parks, diverse in what they provide. Most crimes that happen in parks are “soft crimes”. Visible evidence of these are graffiti, empty beer cans and even drug paraphernalia. “Soft crimes” can be defined as visible signs of depreciative behavior. These crimes are relatively minor and nonserious. However, if “soft crimes” are left unchecked, these gateway offenses lead to a spiral of more-serious crime and disorder, causing discomfort, annoyance, and even fear among park users. This year, park safety is being enhanced by the addition of a newly founded City Parks Police Officer. I was hired for that position and will be working directly with the Parks and Recreation Department and Billings Police Department to improve safety at parks. Since Park Police Officer is a new position, looking ahead to the summer of 2018, I am spending the winter months handing out personal cards to park users and the individuals who live around city parks. I am working with a number of resources the City of Billings has, and approaching outside agencies about park enforcement. There will be some trial and error in the summer of 2018; however, I am providing myself with newly adopted procedures that will allow for more police action against habitual park offenders. A standard summer day in my role will consist of proactively patrolling city parks to watch for criminal activity. I will also investigate cold crimes or in-progress crimes reported by our Park Patrol Volunteers, or park users, and assist maintenance crews during closing hours. I will work publicly-hosted park events. Nothing is more important to me than the opportunity for citizens of Billings to enjoy parks. The parks of Billings are a safe place for families, friends and individuals to recreate and relax. The added enforcement and quick response time that my new position provides will only increase safety and, I earnestly hope, an overall feeling of enjoyment to park users.


2017 Billings Parks and Recreation Annual Report  
2017 Billings Parks and Recreation Annual Report