A new pocket park on Montana Avenue opened for use on Saturday.
The miniature park, located just east of Billings Depot, now contains three ash trees and one lilac tree, thanks to the 10-15 volunteers who helped plant Saturday morning. The project, spearheaded by the Wild Women of the West, aims to transform the small plot into a green space where downtown workers and others can eat lunch or relax and watch trains pass on the adjacent railroad tracks.
A $2,500 grant from Big Sky Economic Development helped fund the project, and CTA Architects Engineers provided initial planning and conceptual designs, according to a press release from Williams. BNSF will provide railroad scrap material for art installations, and project managers will put out a call for artists in the coming months. The project team is also restoring old Depot benches for seating in the park. Pocket parks are becoming increasingly popular in cities that have too-small or oddly shaped, unused plots of land.
“It’s just a weird shape in a weird location,” Williams said. Williams said she hopes that increased foot traffic on Montana Avenue, heading east, brings people to the park. The Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill opened across the street in November 2016, and Liberty & Vine, which sells home décor, clothing, and other goods from local vendors, held its grand opening Saturday.
The Depot pocket park will include a rain garden, which collects runoff from the surrounding area.