Copper Ridge Is Getting a Playground!

July 2, 2020 | by katie jones backer

A true grassroots project—four moms just trying to get a playground for our kids and neighbors to enjoy.

Do you ever see a need for something and think, “someone should make that happen!”

Well, in the case of the West End neighborhood of Copper Ridge, that is exactly what Playground Committee members, Nichole Hamnes, Laura Forcella, and Rachael Wertz have done.

After seeing a Facebook post inquiring about the possibility of a playground in the neighborhood - and seeing all the support on the post - these moms decided, along with fellow neighbor Jenna Jones who helped launched this vision, to look into the process of adding another playground to the Billings community and West End neighborhood area, which did not have anything like it. Beginning with an idea, the committee formed and began making calls, laying out plans, doing A LOT of research, and seeking out donors and grants.

After sharing a few plans with neighbors and getting feedback, the committee was able to move forward with the first phase of the project which will include playground equipment for young children, as well as, pieces of equipment for the older kids. They envision this as an ever-growing project, with plans for the next phase of development including any remaining play equipment not purchased in phase 1 and a basketball court (donations are still greatly needed and appreciated to complete the next phase in the plans, see donation information below).

Many neighbors and local businesses have helped with donations and/or participated in one of the many fundraisers at Pizza Ranch, MacKenzie River, TOPZ… and purchased Mini-photo sessions, Yard Signs, Silent Auction items, pies at Thanksgiving, strawberries at Valentine’s Day, and so much more. Though Rachael did admit that there’s “kinda been a lull with COVID and having to cancel events… yet online donations have increased. It’s been great to see the community come together here at the end.” Beyond donating funds, community partners such as Erik Sweet at Sanderson Stewart, Ben Nienaber at Spring Creek Landscape, and Hank Guerrero at P& H Concrete are also helping with the project’s installation.

And now in just one year, we are days away from the July 4th groundbreaking! Though the Committee members are so excited for this monumental day, they want to remind everyone that since we’re still in Phase Two of re-opening as per Governor Bullock, the occasion is limited to 50 members (their donors and neighbors). Yet, after the installation and inspections are completed, hopefully this playground will be up and running by September, allowing children and neighbors to come together and enjoy some much-needed outdoor FUN!

Nichole shared, “My daughter has been asking for months, ‘when is the playground getting here?’ I’m looking forward to getting out of the house and showing it to her.”

Laura echoed that her 4-year-old son gushed, “Mommy, thank you for doing this for me!” These kids can see just how much their moms are doing for them. What a special gift!

The committee members and neighbors recognize, as Rachael pointed out, that this will be somewhere fun and free to gather and allow for everyone to have a good time. It will help neighbors to interact with one another, and lead to more friendships not just with the children but also the parents. Nichole shared that already she has met and connected with so many neighbors through this project. And Laura, new to Billings, is loving this opportunity to get to know more families. The playground may be meant for children, yet it will lead to lasting connections with the adults too. And it already has, just within the Playground Committee itself. Rachael shared, “Coming together for a common goal has been cool… we’ve become friends for life.”

These ladies, in their shared purpose, seem to really emulate the word “neighbor." Congratulations on your hard work, Nichole, Laura, and Rachael! We look forward to seeing the playground!

To learn more about the upcoming playground, see the designs, and find out how YOU can help, please visit:

The mission of the Copper Ridge Playground Project is to provide access to a safe play environment in the Copper Ridge neighborhood. The Copper Ridge Playground Committee is working with the City of Billings to install playground equipment in the existing park by August 2020.

The Copper Ridge Playground Project is considered a 501(c)(3) organization as we are fortunate to partner with the Billings Community Foundation. We are able to accept donations that are tax-deductible to you!

related articles: