The Roundup -

"Take Part in Our Park" Projects Moving Forward With 24 Benches to Go

 

December 6, 2017 | View PDF

New benches have been installed in front of the stage and connect to the concrete pad for greater accessibility at the Veterans Memorial Park in Sidney.

It was a trio of special summer events that inspired Sidney City Park Superintendent Stephanie Ridl to start the "Take Part in Our Park" program, aimed at making both functional and aesthetic updates to Veterans Memorial Park.

In 2016, Veterans Memorial Park was set to host Shakespeare in the Park, the Sunrise Festival of the Arts, and the Billings Symphony. Unfortunately, the park was created without consideration for residents with access and functional needs, such as those who use wheelchairs or walkers. The stage lacked a ramp, and the benches, which were installed many years ago, were too close together and weren't used. "People were actually setting up folding chairs in front of the benches," said Stephanie Ridl, City Park Superintendent.

The setup of the park posed additional problems with mowing and moving equipment. Without a ramp, moving the sound system for events onto the stage was difficult, and parks staff had difficulties mowing around the benches. The setup of the garbage receptacles wasn't practical either, as they collected snow and rain water, and required that staff lift the cans out of the surrounds.

Ridl recognized that Veterans Park is Sidney's most popular park and thus the four-phase project began. The first project was to install the wheelchair ramp on the east side of the stage for greater accessibility. The project was completed just in time for the Billings Symphony. "We were literally finishing it up the night before," Ridl said.

The second project is to install 38 new 6-foot vinyl plastisol-coated benches in front of the stage to which 24 more benches are needed to complete this phase of the project. The new benches are mounted on concrete, thus allowing greater accessibility and also easier lawn maintenance. The third project is to replace garbage receptacles with recycled plastic, UV protected units. The fourth project was to install an archway on the east side of the park but with the support of Eagle Scouts, Ben Stevens took Ridl's archway idea and designed his own arch as part of his Eagle Scout project.

To fund the Take Part in Our Park project, Ridl sought donations rather than use the city parks budget, though city staff will complete any labor required. "I am so fortunate to work with a group of people who support my projects and have been willing to venture into the parks and help make this Take Part in Our Park project come to life. I understand it has taken a bit more time to get to where we are now with the project but I greatly appreciate the community's patience and hope the results are satisfying to all."

Donations have been made from local businesses, community groups and families as memorials. The cost to sponsor a bench is a donation of $1000, and an additional $150 to add an engraved plaque. All donations are tax deductible.

Ridl hopes that by being accessible and having updated amenities in the park it will be an attraction for bigger events to come to Sidney. Ridl said she is truly grateful for each donation to complete this project as it shows the pride our community takes in the city park system.

Pamphlets describing the projects are available at both Sidney City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. To make a charitable donation of any amount, contact Ridl at 406-480-9263 or sidneycityparks@midrivers.com.

 

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