GREAT FALLS — In September of 2021, the city of Great Falls, in partnership with Malmstrom Air Force Base, broke ground on the construction of a new public recreation facility at Lions Park along 10th Avenue South (link).
Construction continues, and the Scheels Aim High Big Sky Aquatic and Recreation Center is set to open in May 2024. On Friday, December 1, 2023, officials hosted a tour of the facility to show people how it is progressing.
The $20 million center will be a haven for Great Falls community members trying to live a healthy life.
“The uses for the center are for swimming, physical activity, whether its running, using weighted equipment, elliptical equipment, exercise, social activities like leisure programs,” said Jessica Compton, Deputy Director of Park and Recreation for the City of Great Falls. “It’s really a community center. Anything and everything that’s associated with recreation will be held here.”
The project was funded by city backed bonds and donations - including a $1M million Scheels donation, and a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Malmstrom Air Force Base personnel will be able to use the pool facilities for water training exercises, and the center will serve as a place family members to recreate.
“We will make sure with the trainings that it’s not affecting the community use times,” Compton said, “We’ll work with our partners because obviously they’re an important reason for why the facility is here, but we’re also going to make sure that it doesn’t impact our members.”
The center will have basketball courts, fitness rooms, a leisure pool with a lazy river, an eight lane lap pool, a walking/running area, and a daycare center for parents trying to get some exercise in.
“The community really saw the need for this,” Compton said, “And then with the Department of Justice grant saying, ‘Hey, we’ll help out,’ you can really see why it was important being able to provide swim lessons all year round, having a community recreation center, focus on fitness and programing, and just general positive way of life, healthy lifestyles was important.”
For more information and for updates on the construction of the new recreation center, click here.