The City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Department, along with the Public Works and Mobility Department, will be holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, August 25 at 9:30 a.m.

We spoke with Morgan Valliant, Ecosystems Services Superintendent for the City of Missoula this week about the newly improved trail system on Waterworks Hill.

“This is a great collaborative project between multiple city departments to provide better access to one of our most beloved open space lands on the North Hills,” began Valliant. “We've got the City Streets Department, City Water, and City Parks and Rec that have come together to rebuild what is the highest use trailhead on all of our city open space.”

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Valliant said the city has put a great deal of time, money, and effort into improving this particular trail system.

“This is a whole new facility now,” he said. “The Waterworks Hill Trailhead originally was just a dead-end road off of Greenough Drive, and that provided access to a whole bunch of open space land that was purchased back in the 1990s. It has gained popularity and you know the last time that we did any kind of a user survey we estimated about 120,000 visits per year at that individual trailhead.”

Valliant said there are many aspects of city land that have been combined to create the trail system.

“With the acquisition of the water company came 25 acres on the toe of Waterworks Hill, which is how the hill got its name,” he said. It’s that large geodesic dome, which is a large water holding tank that the city still uses to provide domestic water to people. Now that that was part of a city department, and became city land, we started to talk among departments on how we could rebuild Minkler Loop Road so that it was better and essentially open up public access on a parcel that has never had access on it before.”

Valliant estimated the cost put out by the city to complete the project.

“I think the final tab was around $165,000,” he said. “We had multiple different funding sources. We got a $50,000 grant from the state recreational trails program. We used gas tax money because we had road improvements, and there was also some money that came in from our public streets department. We had money that came in from Missoula Water Company to the project and then the bulk of this project was funded through our 2018 Open Space bond.”

On Wednesday, Valliant updated the numbers for the project.

‘Total project cost: $798,143

2018 Open Space Bond: $170,000

Montana FWP Recreation Trails Program Grant: $50,000

Montana Bridge and Road Safety Accountability Act (BaRSAA): $388,143

Missoula Water Contribution: $65,000

Developer Impact Fees: $125,000

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