Big Sky Community Center – A Space for Everyone.
by Kalli Gillette
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.
When the people of Big Sky embrace an idea, they go big. It’s been a long-time dream to have an indoor community center, and today a space for recreation, eduction, arts and culture is becoming a reality.
Three years ago, Big Sky brought in a consultant to work with the Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO) and the Parks and Recreation District to assess the parks, open spaces and recreation in the area. The study found the only standard amenity missing from the community was a multi-use, public, indoor center. As it turned out, the study also found this to be a top priority for both full time residents and second home owners.
Once these priorities were identified, the vision became clear; develop a permanent, year-round space where locals, visitors, organizations and clubs can connect and recreate. A community asset for culture, recreation, education and work space. A place that supports healthy lifestyles; physically, mentally and emotionally. A gathering place.
BSCO took the lead and set the wheels in motion. Philanthropic dollars were used for a cost analysis to identify 3.3 acres as the future site for this place. This land acquisition would also dedicate the existing well-loved Town Center Park as parkland in perpetuity. The plan made sense and a Founders Circle of 16 individuals donated money to purchase the parcel, which was then rezoned into dedicated open space.
The Founders Circle also funded the architectural design of the building. The center will house community learning and fitness rooms, an arts and cultural center, a gymnasium, a climbing gym, and office spaces for local non-profit organizations. Ciara Wolfe, Chief Executive Officer for BSCO explains, “Every space can be multi-use and utilized by all age groups. Whether it’s an after school program or a group of retirees, the space will be available for different ages at different times.” The master plan also includes an improved outdoor amphitheater and a refrigerated outdoor skating rink.
Another benefit of the plan is increased access to the trail system. During the study, 80% of residents said better connectivity to the vast amount of trails was highly important and the new project will provide a 43% increase in parkland.
Thus far, private funds have paid 100% of the cost. A capital campaign to pay for the building raised $12.5 million in philanthropic dollars. From there, the BSCO rolled out the public campaign, All In, to raise the remaining $5 million needed. “Every bit helps,” “Wolfe says, “From $20 to large donations, it’s important that this is a community-owned project.”
Tallie Lancey, BSCO Board of Directors and Chair of the Pubic Fundraising Committee, says, “At the Big Sky Community Organization, one of our guiding values is inclusivity. Our vision for the facility and its surrounding park space is to provide a safe place for our entire community to connect with each other, regardless of your background or ability. Furthermore, we are striving to build a Platinum LEED Building which would be the first of its kind in a Big Sky commercial application. Personally speaking, I'm delighted that BSCO is taking the bold step show the rest of the community how to create a healthy, sustainable building. Here's hoping that the residential marketplace will subsequently appreciate the benefits of healthy, sustainable spaces."
Wolfe goes on to say, “The enthusiasm for this project speaks loudly for the values of the community. This is the most ambitious goal we have ever set. It shows a deep level of commitment to the people who live and visit Big Sky.”
Contributions can be made online at bscomt.org, or call Ciara Wolfe at firstname.lastname@example.org.