GREAT FALLS — Construction is underway on the long-awaited new aquatic center in Great Falls - the Aim High/Big Sky Indoor Aquatics & Recreation Center.
A formal ground-breaking ceremony was held in September 2021, but construction began this with dirt work, including digging a hole for the pool.
The facility is being built at Lions Park along 10th Avenue South between 27th Street and 29th Street.
It's a joint project between the city and Malmstrom Air Force Base, and is designed, in part, to replace the city’s old Natatorium, which closed in late 2018 after falling into disrepair.
The city now has two years to complete construction of the new center in order to be able to use Department of Defense funding for the project.
"In a normal world, it wouldn't take two years, but with the delays in materials and stuff we could be pushing up against that. The construction company still is optimistic they'll be well ahead of that schedule,” said Steve Herrig, Great Falls Park & Recreation direct. He said the dirt work phase of the construction could take three to four weeks.
In addition to providing recreation opportunities for the community, the center will also serve as a training facility for airmen from Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Montana Air National Guard.
Plans for the facility include two indoor pools, one for laps and one for recreation with a water slide and lazy river. The gym will feature a full-size basketball court, and second-floor running track.
Craig Raymond, the Great Falls Planning & Development director, explained, “The careful design and layout are sensitive to the surrounding area, and we aimed to reduce the amount of traffic dispersing into the area and into the adjacent neighborhood. Ideally, we’re trying to take it away from the neighborhood as much as possible.”
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