Helena Magazine

Park improvements continue at Joe Tucker Park; disc golf course opening this week

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

A new pump installed recently at Joe Tucker Park in Helena marks the completion of a larger project at the park, which has been ongoing since summer of 2022.

Mayor Brian Puckett said on Monday that a new electronic valve system was installed, which will allow programming for future forecasting.

“If we know we are forecast to receive a larger amount of rain on a particular day, we can actually go in and pre-lower the water in the pond to accommodate the rain we will potentially have,” Puckett said. “A company is doing all of the electronic work for us, and we will have access to a dashboard where we can go in and manually adjust the water levels as needed. We are really excited to see how that will work this week, because we are forecast to have a good bit of rain on Thursday.”

Puckett said currently Helena is the only municipality who has this electronic system in place for the water management at the pond.

Many residents have expressed interest in if the pond will be restocked with fish, a step Puckett assures will happen after the city works with Southeastern Pond Management.

“We will be looking for a lot of fish to work with keeping the algae down, but we hope to have the pond restocked within the next month,” Puckett said.

In June 2022, heavy rains caused flooding in the area near the pond prompting city officials to explore ways to fix the issue.

“We went out to try and find the true root of the cause,” Puckett said. “What we found was that the pond had been there for about 40 years and had never been cleaned out. You had 40 years of piled up dirt and soot, and then we realized we had to drain the water and the lines were blocked up so that meant we had to get all of that pipe cut open and start digging.”

One change to the current pond is that due to growth and build up, the pond was only about 3 feet deep, but Puckett said crews were able to dig out to about 10 to 12 feet in some spots, which was what the pond was originally when built.

A new bridge was installed near the area that experienced heavy flooding in the summer, and a few additional projects including new parking spaces at some portions of the park will have much of the renovations complete, hopefully by April.

Puckett said this week a new disc golf course will be up and running, becoming one of the 164 courses in the state.

This particular project has been in the works since a tornado tore through Helena a few years ago and became a collaborative effort between the city’s Parks and Recs department and councilman Christopher VanCleave.

Together, the two worked with experts to develop the course which has been mapped out, and most of the equipment has arrived and will be installed by the end of this week.

“We are really excited about the disc golf course and we hope families will enjoy getting out and playing together,” Puckett said.

The final project at the park will be to complete a parking lot at the entrance of the park, near the area where the older playground equipment used to be, and a new parking area by the baseball field and the smaller playground area.

There will also be areas of the park being repaved to eliminate some of the “rougher” spots to drive on, and Puckett said there will also be widening to allow for more than one car to drive around the park at a time.

Puckett estimates this work will likely be finished within the next month.