ibarra_hills

The grassy hills overlooking Caras Park and the Clark Fork River have seated thousands in Missoula over the years — from tacky tourists, to students watching live music, to families eating dinner. Now, the grassy knolls will be no more as the city restructures the park to be a flat, multi-use field to address the problem of chemical runoff into the river, which was exacerbated by the hills.

 

Nothing quite beats a soft, grassy hillside with a view. Especially in Missoula, where residents enjoy the hundreds of little green parks that dot the landscape. 

One of the town favorites, the grassy knoll looking over Caras Park and the Clark Fork River, has seated thousands — from tacky tourists, to students watching live music, to families eating dinner.

For future visitors of the city, though, the cozy picnic tables and the familiar trees will not be there. The City of Missoula bulldozed the hill earlier this month as part of a long-term plan to give the riverside park a “facelift.” 

But right now it seems more like a face-drop, as the once-grassy hill looks like a dirt field for construction. 

The new park will have a flat, multi-use field. The city said this will address the problem of chemical runoff into the river, which was exacerbated by the hill. So we can accept the hill had its faults. But really, do we need another field in Missoula?

Here at the Kaimin, we want to remember the good times, when a hill was a hill. 

We want to remember that first weekend in Missoula. You know the one: When you got too high, knew nobody and were too afraid to sit next to strangers on the bleachers at the first football game. That weekend, the Caras Park hill was there for you. 

It was the spot for first dates, family dinners or taking a break to read. It was the spot to watch people surf Brennan’s Wave from the safety of the trees’ shade. Not to mention, it was the undisputed best people-watching location in Missoula.

It was a place anyone could gather comfortably. You didn’t have to worry about getting in peoples’ way, because Missoulians respected your space there. The summer days saw dozens of people at a time taking a break under the shady limbs of the nearby trees.

Overall, the improvements to Caras Park are good. The amphitheater has long been in need of upgrades, and the new installment will have access compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act previously not provided by the city. 

People will make memories on the new multi-use field. But sometimes it seems the city is prioritizing things that check a box in the planning department, rather than focusing on what people who live here care about and use. 

We will miss the little oasis the Caras hill provided, and we’ll now have to search for another slanted seat where people mingle and memories are made.

So long, you beautiful green refuge. We’ll miss you fondly here at the Kaimin.

 

— Griffen Smith, News Editor

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