Location: From South Sixth Street West to South Avenue (north-south) and from South Higgins to Russell Street (east-west).
Features: Tremper’s Shopping Center, Memorial Rose Garden
Public Schools: Washington Middle School, Willard Alternative High School
Parks: Sunset Memorial, Lion’s, Sacajawea
Click here to view pdf map of Missoula Neighborhoods
Missoula’s Rose Park Neighborhood is Home to Community-Built Triangle Park, Quirky Slant Streets
By Greg Martin for Real Estate Marketplace
|Courtesy of Tim SkufcaRose Park Neighborhood residents made a brick labyrinth on the east side of Triangle Park on Mount Avenue. The bricks were part of the old Fire Station on Mount after it was torn down and rebuilt. The labyrinth is completely built now.|
About half of the Rose Park neighborhood is flat-out crooked. And while most of Missoula residents would say it’s the half with the “slant streets” like Blaine, Edith, Ford, Longstaff, and Hill, it’s probably a safe bet that the residents who live in that area think it’s the rest of the city that needs to straighten out.
Longtime “slant street” resident Susan Flanagin can’t imagine living anywhere else. In her life, Flanagin lived on Edith Street in grade school, raised her kids on Rollins Street (another “slant street”), and downsized to her current house on Longstaff Street.
“When I was a kid, we could walk to school, the pools, lots of grocery stores, downtown and the ‘U,’ she said. “I still appreciate being able to do that.”
Not all of the Rose Park Neighborhood is made up of the slant streets. In fact, about half of the neighborhood runs south of Mount Avenue to South Avenue West.
At a point where the two halves of the community intersect on Mount, neighborhood residents have used the strange geometry of the streets to build an organic, livable space called Triangle Park. At the Y-shaped intersection at Mount Avenue, Plymouth Street, Park and Franklin Street, the area used to be a wide swath of asphalt with little direction for traveling vehicles. As traffic along the Mount-to-Reserve Street corridor grew, residents were worried about the safety of the neighborhood.
The city eventually pinned in concrete bumpers to straighten the path out, but that left two gaping areas of asphalt at the east and west side of the intersection. Neighbors formed the Mount Avenue Preservation Society to preserve the residential, neighborly feel of Mount and worked with the Public Works department on developing the area. In 2004, the Rose Park Neighborhood Council received a neighborhood grant to design and landscape the western half, which they did with the help of a landscape architect.
A couple of years later, the council got another grant that timed serendipitously with the demolition and reconstruction of the fire station across the street. Many of the materials from the old station were used in the development of the east triangle. Most noticeable is a carefully-crafted labyrinth made with the bricks from the old building. The circular pathway was built with painstaking labor from neighborhood volunteers – cleaning each brick and placing it in just the right spot. There are built-up levels made with pavers and with concrete that was erroneously poured for the fire station – saved from the landfill and used as a good place to sit down and enjoy the park.
The park is made up largely of recycled and sustainable materials including mulch donated from the UM Forestry Department, sand from a university volleyball court, concrete from the sidewalk by the old fire station building, and ground up cinder blocks and bricks from Construction Site Services. The landscaping is entirely made up of native plants and requires minimal watering. The parks department is not able to spend a lot of resources on the park so residents, non-profits and businesses have stepped up to help.
“If we’d have built this up from scratch, we’d have spent thousands more dollars,” said Tim Skufca who has been a key leader in organizing and maintaining the area. Skufca said the help that has been given from so many people and organizations has been crucial in making it what it is today.
But because the city doesn’t have the resources, the park needs the help of volunteers to keep it maintained – whether that’s pulling weeds, raking leaves or clearing away trash. In the end, Skufca said, the project was initiated by neighbors and residents and the upkeep needs the same people to stay involved.
“We have to have a little bit more neighborly involvement,” he said. “If we let it go, it’s going to be a mess.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Tim: email@example.com or 543-0087
Greg Martin is a freelance writer for the Missoulian.