BILLINGS- Picnic tables, a pavilion with live music and a boat launch- those are all things Billings city leaders see for the future Coulson Park.
Friday, representatives of the Big Sky Economic Development, city of Billings and the Billings Parks and Recreation met at Coulson Park to announce funding has been secured for the Coulson Park’s master plan.
In combination with private donors and local support, a total of $90,000 has been allocated to the master plan for the park.
The plan is a blueprint that could change the face of the area for years to come.
“That’s what today is about casting that vision to see what it is that we can finally get back to the river,” said Billings Mayor Bill Cole.
According to Big Sky Economic Development, private donors gave $45,000 and the Yellowstone River Oil Spill Recreation Project Funds gave another $45,000.
The second pot of money was created as compensation for the 2011 Silvertip pipeline burst in the Yellowstone River in 2011, which spilled 63,00 gallons of oil into the water and damaged thousands of acres of wetlands. In 2013, Exxon Mobil, which owned the pipeline, agreed to set aside $2.3 million for recreation along the river.
Coulson Park sits next to the Yellowstone River with limited park features. There are paved trails that run through the park, a boat launch that is damaged and picnic tables. It’s next to former Corette coal power plant site, which shut down in 2015.
Community leaders say they want so much more for Coulson Park, so they’ve been working finding funding that can make it a focal point for Billings.
Billings Mayor Bill Cole believes the future of Coulson Park starts with its history.
“It’s a place where we can tell our history it’s a place where we can enjoy the river but we need to do a lot more,” said Mayor Cole.
Now the consulting team with Big Sky Economic Development will look at the boundary and topographical surveys, hold stakeholder interviews and public meetings to produce concept drawings for a final master plan.