Living in the picturesque community of Lakeside, residents have the benefit of seeing the scenic panorama of Flathead Lake daily. But fewer opportunities exist when it comes to actually accessing the beloved lake shores, especially in the heart of town.
Margaret Davis and Bruce Ennis went to work finding a solution, and today Volunteer Park represents their efforts and charity for the residents and visitors of Lakeside. The husband and wife first acquired the 1.5-acre property off U.S. Highway 93 and at the end of Adams Street in 2009 and transferred ownership to Flathead County for a public park.
Now they’ve done it again, acquiring the adjacent section of land north of the park and melding it into the green gathering space. Thanks to another generous donation by Davis and Ennis, Volunteer Park is expanding with an additional 82 feet of lakeshore frontage and added grass space for public activities. The new space will have three park benches, shade trees and a beachfront with sections of fine gravel and stone steps leading to the water. A concrete loop sidewalk will connect the new area with the existing park facilities, and improvements to the existing irrigation system were also incorporated in the latest project. Crews also completed an additional storm drainage and sidewalk extension along U.S. Highway 93 to make walking to the park safer. The park will also be completely ADA approved for handicap accessibility.
Davis preferred not to say how much of their own money went to acquiring and developing the park; instead she wanted to thank everyone involved in making it possible and putting up with the summer construction.
A short informal ceremony celebrating the latest park expansion is scheduled for 8 a.m., Aug. 27 at the park. Flathead County commissioners and Flathead Park Board members will participate in welcoming the addition.
“The bottom line is that it is just an absolutely incredible gift. We’re extremely blessed by the gift they were willing to give to us,” said David Fetveit, a local real estate broker and president of the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s the best public park on the lake. It’s also been a big benefit to all of the business owners, too.”
Since it was first developed in the heart of town in 2010, the public access site has turned into a beloved gathering ground, welcoming families, weddings, birthday parties and community events to an idyllic section of lakefront property.
“There are remarkably few places where the public could get on Flathead Lake. It seemed ironic that a community called Lakeside would be one of those,” Davis said recently.
Davis and Ennis went to work nearly 10 years ago and acquired the first chunk of land that another family was willing to sell.
“It was very nice to work with them. They recognized that it would be an asset to the community,” Davis said.
Volunteer Park debuted in the summer of 2010, but Davis and Ennis didn’t stop there. Another property became available, too and the husband and wife purchased it as they did the former swatch of land.
“We said there is a possibility that before we go to our graves, we have an opportunity to do this,” Davis said.
“We’re pleased to see that the Lakeside community is always going to have something. It’s given them a town center, a place where large groups of people can meet and do things that they hadn’t been able to do before.”
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