City, GFPS planning land swap for aquatics facility, parking
The City of Great Falls is expecting to hear by Sept. 18 whether its been awarded a $10 million grant through the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program administered by the Office of Economic Adjustment.
The grant would fund half of an estimated $20 million joint indoor aquatics facility that would be owned and operated by the city and open to the entire community, as well as meet training and quality of life needs for Malmstrom Air Force Base. The facility would also include basketball and other courts, a fitness center and other amenities. The city would close the existing Recreation Center and operate one facility if the grant is awarded and the project completed.
Tonight, the City Commission is being asked to authorize the city manager to accept the grant if it’s awarded to the city.
The city was one of 16 communities nationwide shortlisted for the grant process and submitted its formal application in late August.
If the city accepts the grant, construction must start within a year and the project must be completed within five years.
The other $10 million for the project would come from park maintenance district funds, according to city staff. An indoor aquatics and recreational center was identified as a community need in the 2016 Park and Recreation Master Plan.
Initially, the city submitted conceptual plans for a facility on a parcel near Loy Elementary that is owned by the city, but was in talks with Great Falls Public Schools about a 10 acre parcel across the street that would be better suited, and larger, for the project.
During their Sept. 14 meeting, the Great Falls Public Schools board voted unanimously to pursue a parkland swap with the City of Great Falls.
The district will swap a 10 acre parcel of Loy land that was originally donated to the district in 1967 for six lots of comparable value in Kranz Park, which is owned by the city.
The district had asked the city several years ago to use a portion of Kranz Park for a parking lot, but those plans stalled out.
The school board voted in late August to deem the 10 acres by Loy as surplus property. There were no appeals to the surplus during the 14-day period required by state law.
The Loy land was appraised in September 2020 at $185,000.
The six lots in Kranz Park that are being swapped to the district are valued at $153,318 per Montana Cadastral in September. Superintendent Tom Moore said the swap included an easement in the park as well, making the trade equitable in value.
The swap is contingent on City Commission approval.