City received 10 proposals for aquatics center design; will interview top 3
The city received 10 proposals for design and construction process for the planned Aim High/Big Sky Recreation facility.
City Manager Greg Doyon said that a city selection committee reviewed and ranked those proposals. He said the city would look at the top three proposals through an interview process over the next few days.
The city received a $10 million grant from the U.S. Defense Department and intends to fund its $10 million match by bonding against park maintenance district funds. The city currently assesses $1.2 million annually for the park district and would use a portion of those funds to pay the debt service on the bond, which according to city officials and the city’s bond counsel is an allowable use of those funds.
There have been discussions at the city for years about a potential combined indoor aquatics and recreation facility to replace the Natatorium, which was closed at the end of 2018, and the Community Recreation Center.
Doyon said that using park district funds for the city’s match had been part of the discussion since the beginning with City Commissioners and that they approved the plan to pursue the grant and use park district funds for the city’s match so there “shouldn’t be a lot of surprise” in that aspect.
If the city uses a portion of the park district funds annually to pay the debt service, there would be less money each year for other park improvement projects, but reminded the commission to look back at the 2016 park master plan, in which an indoor aquatics center was addressed.
“The community really treasurers its aquatics facilities,” Doyon said.
He said that the planned aquatics and rec center would allow the city to combine two facilities that aren’t performing well financially and be able to create a better revenue model for operating and maintenance.
Doyon said he contacted the Office of Economic Adjustment, which handles the grant program within the Defense Department, about whether they could move to a new site if there’s concerns with soils, but suspected the answer would be no, since the grant program required a site under the city’s control. He said it’s preferred to have it located close to Malmstrom Air Force Base to increase accessibility and usage by military families since the DoD is putting $10 million into the project.
The city is planning to use a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the city soccer park near Loy Elementary.
Doyon said there have been a number of questions form the community about the project, many of which have been discussed as the city decided to pursue the federal grant for the project, so staff was looking at developing a Q&A style page on the Park and Recreation department website to help inform the public.