County Accepts Deed for Lakeside’s Volunteer Park

By Beacon Staff

There were plenty of smiles and handshakes at the Flathead County commissioner’s office on Aug. 12 after the commission voted to accept the deed for Volunteer Park in Lakeside.

The park, donated by Lakeside residents Bruce Ennis and Margaret Davis, provides the public with nearly 190 feet of uninterrupted waterfront access, as well as several structures to use for activities.

County commissioners Dale Lauman and Joe Brenneman voted to accept the deed; Commissioner Jim Dupont was absent. The county is expected to take possession of the park within days of the vote.

Lauman expressed delight in watching the park’s development over the past couple years, progressing from an idea to the sod and landscaping in place now.

“The enthusiasm I see in the community is tremendous,” Lauman said. “I think Lakeside is very, very fortunate to have Bruce and Maggie in the area.”

Commissioner Joe Brenneman was also pleased to sign the park’s deed, noting that it is rare for such pleasant proceedings to cross the commissioners’ desks. He also commended the donors for their gift and their dedication to the project.

“It will be remembered for a long time after all of us,” Brenneman said.

Several people gathered for the deed transfer echoed the commissioners’ comments, calling the park’s donation an unprecedented act of kindness.

Ray Sanders, chairman of the Flathead County Weed, Parks and Recreation Board, said the donation was an act of “great benevolence” and he promised his board would take care of the park.

Ennis and Davis initiated the idea for the park about three years ago. Davis said her husband has always loved the Flathead Valley because he grew up in Kalispell and that the pair had noticed a lackof public lakeshore access.

After Ennis purchased the Bayshore Motel last summer, the waterfront access increased to include Flathead County’s existing boat ramp and public dock at Adams Street.

The project took on the name Volunteer Park in honor of all the volunteers who have made Lakeside the community it is today, from the Lakeside QRU to the West Shore Food Bank and many more, Davis noted. Park development was done primarily by Flathead Valley designers, contractors and service providers.

At the Aug. 12 hearing, Ennis said the project began as an “unknown undertaking” because there was not much protocol to determine how they would develop and donate the park. In the end, Ennis said the county parks department and the commissioners made the process as painless as possible.

“It has been made easy and enjoyable for us to do what we want to do,” Ennis said.

Ennis added he could hardly wait for the park to be finished so the public can start enjoying it, and “so people can stop asking us when it will open.”

“We all look forward to having a nice park down there,” he said.

The final chain-link fences came down on Aug. 13, Davis said, and the park will have a sort of soft opening until the Sept. 9 dedication ceremony, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. on the corner of U.S. Highway 93 and Adams Street.

“Its good to go and out of our hands,” Davis said. “It’s a Flathead County park.”

UPDATE: This story was updated to clarify the reason behind the name of Volunteer Park.