Sierra Park was established as a County Park in October 1985 through an agreement between School District #1 and Lewis and Clark County. Over the years, Sierra Park has become an integral part of the Helena Valley Community. On any given day, a variety of people visit the park to utilize its walking trail, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, horseshoe pits, and shelters. During the school year, the students of Rossiter Elementary School can often be found using some portion of the park for recess or class projects.
The Sierra Park Board is the entity responsible for overseeing the development and maintenance of the Park. The board is currently comprised of a volunteer staff led by Andy Nickol. The board includes people from throughout the Helena Area. Regular attendees to meetings include Rossiter teachers, Scool District personnel, FWP employees and private citizens. If you are interested in joining the board, please contact us.
The success of the development of Sierra Park has been multi-faceted. Over the years Sierra Park has received financial support from the School District, the City County Park Board, and the Rossiter School Store. However, donations by local businesses and Helena Residents have played a key role in the park's development. Although the park has come a long way, there is still much to be done. Without constant maintenance, the Park will be unable to accomodate the various activities and groups it serves. In addition, many exciting improvements to the park are currently being considered. If you would like to help support the park, through a donation of time or money, please visit our support page.
Sierra Park owes its success to the immense dedication of many patrons. The following is a small sampling of those individuals who dreamed of a park in the Helena Valley and worked tirelessly to bring that dream to fruition.
Marcella Burke was a driving force behind the creation and development of Sierra Park. As a 3rd grade teacher at Rossiter Elementary and a parent living in the Helena Valley, she saw the need for a park closer to home. She wanted the children of the valley to have a place of their own with amenities similar to those found in town.
Mrs. Burke had little knowledge of park development, so she sought out other skilled community members who shared in her vision. Working alongside Jewel Hurley, Paul Valle, Ken Dalton, Melody Hayes and many others, Mrs. Burke helped to layout a blueprint for Sierra Park and played a key role in its establishment in 1985. Throughout the years that followed, Marcella continued her work to improve the park - conducting fundraisers and gatherings to maintain and improve its facilities.
Mrs. Burke was forced say goodbye to Rossiter Shool and Sierra Park in 2002, after a 5 year battle with cancer. However, her vision and enthusiasm live on in the many volunteers who continue to make the park a reality. The drive and adjacent field welcoming visitors to the park are named in memory of Marcella Burke - "A dangerous Dreamer of New Possibilities"
Jewel Hurley acted as Head Playground Aid, part-time Nurse and full-time Friend to the children of Rossiter School between 1975 and 2001. Mrs. Hurley has lived in the Helena Valley for much of her life. She and her husband Joe actually considered purchasing the Sierra Park site prior to Rossiter School being built in 1966.
In the late-1970s Jewel first came up with the idea of expanding the Rossiter playgrounds into the fields surrounding the school. Joining forces with Mrs. Burke and others, Jewel did whatever was required to foster the park's development. Whether selling hot dogs at County Market, or planting trees along the running trails, Jewel was ever-present at park functions.
To this day, Jewel can still be found keeping a watchful eye over the park. She says that as long as she has a breath left in her, she will continue to work towards the park's success. The Pavillion on the north end of the parking lot is named in honor of Sierra Park's guardian angel - Jewel Hurley.