The Roundup -

MonDak Parks Receive Updates; Seek Support


Conceptual drawing of the new Watford City Veteran's Park.

It is for many reasons that officials in both Sidney, Montana, and Watford City, North Dakota, have embarked on significant upgrades to city parks. In Sidney, improving accessibility and ease of maintenance was a focus. In Watford City, honoring a past city official and area veterans was priority. For all three, though, showing local support and pride in the facilities was at the heart of the projects.

Sidney-Veteran's Park

Sidney City Parks Superintendent Stephanie Ridl began upgrades to Veteran's Park, informally known to locals as the "train park," over a year ago with the objective to improve the physical accessibility of the facility. However, at the heart of the project was instilling a sense of pride in all of the local park facilities by soliciting support from community members, and thus her project, "Take Part in Our Parks," was born. Veteran's Park is by far the most visited park in Sidney, and became the first to upgrade.

In addition to installing an accessibility ramp and installing an archway to the entrance of the park, Ridl sought local donations to install new, more accessible benches in front of the stage and to replace the garbage receptacles with more sturdy units that are easier to empty.

The total budget for the upgrades was $69,000. "Our donations have totaled just shy of $40,000," Ridl said, "so we're really close." Of the 34 benches needed, 17 have been donated by community members thus far.

A donation of $1150 will cover the cost of installing one bench, a price which includes the bench and concrete work, as well as a plaque that can be dedicated to or in memory of a loved one, veteran or otherwise. Ideally, Ridl would like to see several more benches installed prior to the park's big annual events, like Shakespeare in the Park and the Sunrise Festival of the Arts.

Ridl stresses that the project aims to generate community-wide support, and she has not as of yet received any large donations from outside entities, such as larger oil and gas companies. "I'm very excited that we are as far as we are, and that this is a community project," she said.

Pamphlets describing the upgrades are available at both Sidney City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. To purchase a bench, or make a charitable donation of any amount, contact Ridl at 406-480-9263 or

Watford City-Kent Pelton Nature Park

What originally began as the most basic of parkland, housing just a pond, baseball diamond and a gravel parking lot, has evolved into a beautiful memorial nature park in honor of former Watford City mayor and city councilman Kent Pelton.

The Kent Pelton Nature Park project was meant to fill a gap in available facilities, according to Watford City Park District Supervisor Robin Arndt. "This is going to be our community park. Right now the Tourist Park is, but it's not big enough and there's not enough parking. We've tried to address some of these issues with Kent Park," said Arndt.

Phase I of the park included construction of restrooms and concession stands, as well as three park shelters and light poles. The park also consists of a walking path and arboretum in honor of Pelton. Trees of various species will be planted in the almost 15-acres east of the path, with a boulder containing a plaque with information on the tree species, as well as the name of the sponsor. To sponsor a tree costs $500.

Phase II of the project, which consists of the construction of a large pavilion, is currently out for bid. The pavilion will be big enough to attract large community events, as well as outdoor weddings, summertime barbeques for more than 150 people, and "whatever big events we can come up with in the future," Arndt explained.

Funding for the park is provided in part by the Roughrider Fund, McKenzie County, and the City of Watford City, as well as local donations. To sponsor a tree or any other part of the park, contact the Watford City Parks and Recreation at 701-842-3665.

Watford City-Veteran's Park

The Watford City Veteran's Park was donated to the City in the 1940s to honor local veterans, but saw little upkeep over the decades. Recently, however, Jerry Samuelson, Navy veteran and director of McKenzie County Veteran's Services, embarked on an almost three million dollar project to bring recognition to deserving veterans.

Phase I of the project includes the erection of 12 granite monuments containing the names of 2200 area veterans and those currently serving, with 8-foot seating areas and the service emblems from each of the 5 services. Samuelson has enlisted the help of the National Archive Center to find wartime photos of the Watford City area to be placed above the names.

Construction of Phase I of the park began June 15th.

Samuelson stresses that the project will honor both long-standing residents as well as those who have more recently moved into the area. "This is a McKenzie Co. Vets Memorial Park, for all vets in the County and new veterans, we want to have everyone who is an honorably discharged veteran to be recognized," Samuelson stressed.

Phase II of the park includes granite benches, lighting, and an eternal flame, as well as a retaining wall which will allow visitors to view the park from above.

The park will be lit 24 hours a day, and is intended for year-round use. "The park was only used on Memorial Day. We want people to come not only to enjoy the park, but we want it to be used for other things as well," Samuelson said.

As far as funding the park goes, Samuelson said, "we have a lot of private contributions. Half of it comes from city or county and the other half from private donations. We were very thankful for that. Now we just need to finish that. We're looking for companies or corporations, as well as individuals to donate." To donate to the park, contact Samuelson at 701-444-6853.


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