Silver Park / On the horizon: Proposal adds riverfront recreation area with a timber theme

Article from Missoulian – to read full article click HERE

The history of timber in Montana is one theme of a new city park that will come together along the Clark Fork River.

Silver Park is slated to be a 14.5-acre stretch of greenery, art, trails and timber frame shelters in a district called the Old Sawmill District, at the old Champion Mill site.

At an upcoming City Club Missoula meeting, city leaders and a member of the Timber Framers Guild will present plans for the park and the shelters, which will cover benches. City Club hosts the informational lunch forum on Friday, Feb. 15, at the DoubleTree Edgewater.

Once built, the park will add an important piece to Missoula’s trail system. A path through the park will link the Kim Williams Trail and Ogren Park to the California Street Bridge, said redevelopment specialist Kari Nelson.

Nelson, with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, said the trail fills in many of the pathways along the south side of the river. That means a jogger can run down one side of the river, across a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, up another side and across another bike-ped bridge.

“It’s a pretty good continuous loop,” Nelson said.

A designer created a small bouldering area in the park, but mostly, the area offers more relaxation, or “passive recreation.” Right next door, McCormick Park offers playing fields and a public pool.

Silver Park will pay tribute to its past in several ways. Three relics from the old mill will serve as giant sculptures.

“One looks like a giant blow dryer,” Nelson said.

The park design brings out the site’s history at its entrances, too. Archways will stand over people stepping into the park. The stories of the mill tie them together, but each entrance will be unique.

So will three sets of benches and timber frame covers. At the City Club forum, a structural engineer and member of the Timber Framers Guild will explain what timber frame construction is and how Missoulians can help build the shelters.

“It’s really important that there’s a lot of community involvement,” said Jennifer Anthony, who owns Fearless Engineers and worked as the engineer for the Caras Pavilion.

The shelters will be made of salvaged wood from the millsite. Anthony said the goal in timber work is to use pure wood joinery, and other than a foundation, the structure itself will not use steel.

Members of the guild are tentatively scheduled to hold workshops in Missoula about their craft this fall. When the group confirms a date, anyone will be able to sign up for free and help build the shelters for the park.

Eventually, builders also will put up a pavilion made of old millsite materials and Bonner sinker logs, too.

When loggers floated timber down the Blackfoot River, some pieces sank to the bottom. They’re the sinker logs, and they bear a stamp that typically identifies the logger who cut down the tree.