Bozeman commissioners pass park bond to voters


BOZEMAN, Mont. - During Monday night's meeting, Bozeman City Commissioners decided to ask voters to approve more money for parks and trails.

The meeting was packed, as several members of the public weighed in. Parents and young kids gave testimony about the current state of the trails and parks system in Bozeman.

Nearly all who spoke urged commissioners to put the bond to a vote. They said Bozeman's field facilities aren't meeting community needs, and there are areas that need more trail connectors.

Some argued that with better athletic fields, Bozeman could host more tournaments and boost the local economy.

"As much as I love those Bozeman facilities, they should be expanded" said one resident.

"Our ability to host tournaments, ball fields- Bozeman is already at the back of the pack, and we're about to fall further behind" if the bond doesn't go through, another said.

"The system of trails- I use regularly and they make Bozeman a community" said one citizen, adding "it's very important most people access trails here."

In the end, commissioners voted to send the bond to the November ballot.

Deputy Mayor Krauss was the only "no" vote. He said there were loopholes in the bond language that needed clarification.

Mayor Sean Becker said he thought the wording was fine as-is, and the commission moved forward.

Commissioner Chris Mehl said the public should decide whether to make park improvements, and now is the time for that vote.

"A parks and trails bond is something that was in our plans from more than five years ago" he said. "I think makes even more sense today, given the fact of the relatively low land prices and the fact that we can borrow at almost historically low rates."

If voters pass it in November, funds from the $15 million bond would be spent a little at a time, as needed.

The bond would raise taxes on the average household by about $44.50 a year. Possible improvements include building more trails, upgrading current spaces and building new facilities.