City has been awarded $10 million grant for indoor aquatics facility

Updated Sept. 22 with information from the Defense Department.

The City of Great Falls has been awarded a $10 million grant from the Department of Defense for a $20 million indoor aquatics facility.

Steve Herrig, Park and Recreation director, said that he had been anxious all day awaiting news of the grant award, since Sept. 15 had been the date on the federal grant program for notification of award.

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Herrig said that at the end of the day, he couldn’t take it anymore, so he emailed the city’s liaison in the grant program, who wrote back around 5:30 p.m. local time, to say that the city had been awarded the grant and that the city manager would be receiving the grant agreement within a day or two for review and acceptance.

The Defense Department announced the award Sept. 21, making the city’s selection official.

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Herrig made the announcement during the Sept. 15 City Commission meeting and drew applause from the commission and the audience.

City seeking proposals for aquatics project

The city has until Sept. 23 to accept the grant and then a year to break ground and five years to complete construction.

The city is currently accepting proposals for design and construction process and those are due Sept. 21. City Manager Greg Doyon said there has been nationwide interest in this project from design firms.

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The city will receive $10 million from the federal grant and fund the other $10 million for the project will come from park maintenance district funds.

The plan for the new facility would be a combined aquatics and recreational facility, with room for expansion on the 10-acre parcel of land the city is acquiring from the school district near the base. City Manager Greg Doyon said the city is also planning to include a commercial area in the project, such as a restaurant or coffee shop, that could generate stable lease revenue toward operation of the facility.

The city will own and operate the facility. Because it’s a federal grant with the purpose of improving the quality of life for the military community at Malmstrom Air Force Base, the city identified property near the base for the project, which is also accessible by public transportation.