Hillside Park / Lion’s Park
Hillside Park is a long-time park located in northeastern Bismarck south of Boulevard Avenue and east of 16th Street directly across from Simle Middle School, which was originally named “Hillside Park Junior High.” The park is also known as Lions Park and houses the Hillside Aquatic Center.
Hillside Park is home to a playground, skateboard park, picnic shelters, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, Frisbee golf (“Frolf”), and the city’s largest outdoor swimming pool facility. During the winter, a hockey rink and adjacent ice skating rink are also present.
Saint Mary’s Cemetery is located immediately south and east of Hillside Park, whose association leased land for 99 years at a cost of $1 to the park board toward the park’s establishment.
The local Lions clubs have been a long-time sponsor of the park, including a $1,000 donation in 1950 for the first playground equipment located there.
The earliest effort to establish what was then called “east-end park” commenced in early 1928 when the park board purchased $3,000 worth of lots east and north of Richholt School, with options for an additional $7,000. Later, the Bismarck Park Board leased the land from the St. Mary’s Cemetery Association for 99 years at a cost of $1.
Bu summer 1928, roughly 1,000 trees were planted in what was officially penned Hillside Park, including 400 elms and another 400-500 cottonwoods and boxelders.
Plans for a swimming pool at the park were first unveiled in 1950. A 27-member finance committee was appointed in 1953 to raise funds for the anticipated $175,000 pool, which would be the park district’s second pool after the Elks.
Citizens overwhelmingly approved a 5-mill levy to finance its construction on April 6, 1954. Construction commenced in 1956. By this time, the estimated cost had risen to $250,000-$300,000 for the main pool, diving area, wading area, and 2-story bath house. The bath house was originally intended to include a dance floor for year-round use, but year-long use of the facility would not be achieved until its 2015 renovation – nearly sixty years later.
A $180,000 12-foot-high, 367-foot-long looping waterslide was approved in 1984 and opened on July 4, 1985. It was demolished in 2008 due to old age.
The park began a major renovation project in 2009, as part of a district-wide $3.5 park improvement fund. In 2015, the swimming pool was replaced , along with new waterslide and an upgraded at a cost of $4.5 million, while its locker and bath facility was also upgraded.