The Billings City Council is having a special meeting Monday night to discuss details and funding needs of a citywide park district.
The council doesn’t normally meet on the fifth Monday of the month but is using this one to hold an informal work session devoted solely to the park district, which it voted to create last month.
There will be no formal action taken at the meeting, but public comment on the district will be taken after the council has its own discussion of the subject.
The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.
The citywide district will be funded by an annual assessment on property owners, and the amount assessed will be based on how much the City Council votes to spend on the park system each year.
The Park Board, which recommended creation of the district, also recommended setting the annual assessment at $2 million a year for the first three years. The plan was to spend $1.5 million a year on deferred maintenance projects and $500,000 on continuing maintenance of parks and trails.
In approving creation of the district last month, council members said they would use the Park Board’s recommendation as a basis of discussion, possibly reducing the annual assessment and fine-tuning the list of proposed projects.
The Heights Community Development Task Force has already forwarded its own recommendations for spending on parks in the Heights.
In its suggestions for first-year assessments, the Park Board proposed spending $275,000 to rebuild the tennis courts at Castle Rock Park. The Heights task force said that cost is prohibitive, so it suggests removing the tennis courts and seeding the area for another soccer field.
The task force generated its own list of priority projects for the Heights, the first one being improvements to the pot-holed road through Swords Park on top of the Rims. No. 2 on its list is working with Skyview High School students, volunteers, businesses and contractors on developing a disc golf course in High Sierra Park.
Other first-year recommendations forwarded by the Park Board included $300,000 to replace the Rose Park water slides, $180,000 for new playground equipment at South Park, $248,500 for emergency general maintenance projects and $450,000 to renovate or replace nine park restrooms.
In the second year, the Park Board recommended spending $500,000 for a sprayground at South Park, $355,000 for rebuilding Pioneer Park tennis courts, $250,000 for water service upgrades at Amend Park and $360,000 for new fall protection at 36 playgrounds.
Third-year recommendations included $200,000 for an events shelter at Pioneer Park and $1.2 million for major infrastructure improvements at Stewart Park.
As a starting point for the discussion Monday night, representatives of the Park Board will talk about how the board arrived at its recommendations.
The amount of the the first year’s assessment will have to be decided on before September, when it will have to be submitted to the county assessor’s office in order to prepare tax statements.