CUSTER, SD -
The mountain town of Custer, South Dakota, draws visitors from all over the world. Work being done on a long-neglected city park could give visitors another site to tour.
When Colleen Hennessy and Jim Frank moved to Custer from Michigan in 2000, they were in awe with the natural beauty of the area.
"It was amazing just walking up the hill and, you know, you're scaring up deer. Out East you just don't see the deer like that," Colleen Hennessy said.
"We kind of thought, well gee, this park doesn't look very developed. There was no signs, no formal entrances, no maps, virtually nothing," Jim Frank said.
Frank got on the city's Park and Recreation Board and began applying for grants from the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. After four grants totaling more than $200,000 the park is taking shape.
"With the generous donations of the Game, Fish and Parks people we were able to make a reality out of this," Frank said.
A staircase near the scenic lookout was completed just a couple weeks ago. With the addition of the new grant money, the plan is to take the staircase all the way to the top of Big Rock.
"You know, you can walk this park within an hour very easily. And here you are, out in the wilderness without having to go very far," Hennessy said.
But scenic views and close proximity to town aren't the only things bringing people to Big Rock.
"With the trail system we now have an 18-hole disc golf course, which gets a lot of use and is gaining a pretty good reputation around the state and country as a pretty unique disc golf course," Frank said.
With a little something for everybody, hopes are high for Big Rock Park.
"I would challenge people to take a day and come up and see this beautiful park," Hennessy said.
The last grant from the GF&P was for $80,000. It's an 80-20 cost-share with the city of Custer and will go towards completing the staircase to the top of Big Rock.
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