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Officials from The City of Billings, fund raisers, media and dog lovers gathered last week at the corner of 32nd Street and St. John’s Avenue for a ground breaking for a new city park that will cater especially to dogs. It will be the first regional park developed by the city in 38 years, pointed out Mayor Bill Cole, in his comments.

The park will be built in phases. The City Council was convinced by supporters to direct $2.46 million in this year’s budget to developing the first phase of the 23 acres that was designated to be a park in 2015. Grading of the site has already begun. The first phase includes installation of an automated irrigation system and sidewalks and hyro-seeding of grass. First Mark is doing the construction.

Centennial Park has taken awhile to happen because, while the City imposed the creation of a dedicated park mill levy, as Mayor Cole noted, many of those funds over the past years were directed to public safety.

The last large, regional park built by the city was Castle Rock Park in 1982, although Amend Park, a multi-use soccer complex, was launched in 1992 and built through private donations on city-owned land.

Centennial Park will have a designated area especially for dogs, which will include a fence, the $80,000 cost for which has been pledged by Friends of Billings Dog Parks. The contribution will also include the cost of special drinking fountains.