BILLINGS — A grand opening for a new Billings park with picnic shelters, a basketball court and a selection of unique musical instruments, dubbed Harmony Park, was held by members of the Better Billings Foundation Saturday.
The three-acre Harmony park rests on city parkland under long term lease to the Better Billings Foundation, the same nonprofit group that operates Oasis water park in the Heights at 543 Aronson Ave.
“We said, well we’d really like to do something to benefit not just Oasis, but benefit our neighborhood and our community as a whole and this was the vision that came out of that," said Chuck Barthuly, Better Billings Foundation Executive director and Oasis director of operations.
In the park, people can walk on a path that showcases different percussive instruments, designed with families in mind. The path leads to the picnic shelters and a few more steps west will bring you to the basketball court.
Better Billings Foundation staff opened Oasis in 2012 after the city donated the land to the foundation.
Barthuly said the group had wanted to develop the land surrounding the water park for the past 10 years. The fire for the project really started in 2019 with an initial donation from the Heenan and Cook law firm to construct the basketball court, Barthuly said.
“The partnership that we have with the city and the donors that made this possible are the reason this happened. The Better Billings Foundation is really so happy to be a part of our community and to work towards making Billings a better place for our families to live and thrive," Barthuly said.
The park project cost about $150,000, half of which was paid for with donations and volunteered labor, Barthuly said.
Harmony Park was a big hit with the kids on its grand opening day, with the instruments seeing a lot of use. But the basketball court may have been more popular with kids wanting to shoot some hoops before the court was even finished.
“We hadn’t even put up the hoops yet and kids were asking if they could come play. 15 seconds after we were done putting up the hoops and putting the nets on there were kids playing basketball," Barthuly said.
A section of parkland west of Harmony Park will have sod laid down by the fall, so there will be a large section of grass for play and other games, Barthuly said.