Massive Sky Group Group opens group discussion board on recreation facility planning


Either indoors or outdoors, Wednesday’s early brainstorming suggests the Big Sky community wants a pool.


In a multipurpose room at BASE Wednesday afternoon, more than 80 community members shared their vision for a new Big Sky recreation center.

About 50 people completed recommended registration for Wednesday’s event, hosted by the Big Sky Community Organization, and more than 80 attended. A double session will be held on Thursday evening 27th October with 30 people currently registered and unlimited space available. Working with Bozeman-based sustainable architecture and design firm inContour, BSCO organized a three-part discussion to gather feedback on a potential project that would meet the needs of the year-round community.

“I think it’s remarkable that so many people want to be involved in this process,” said Whitney Montgomery, CEO of BSCO. “I hope tomorrow evening’s workshop will be as successful as this afternoon’s.”

A table works together during the group portion of the afternoon. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

To begin, Lessa Millard, inContour’s owner and lead landscape architect, led a 30-minute brainstorm of recreational spaces that could meet the needs of the community.

Below are a few ideas, suggested in no particular order:

A community pool, free childcare, a library, a community kitchen, an indoor running track and/or artificial grass pitch, an art studio, workshop or makerspace, a sauna, an outdoor workout facility, safe bike paths, an indoor ice rink, a music studio, an archery range and an open basketball gym.

More than one community member emphasized the importance of free access to the community for the new facility.

A second round of brainstorming included solutions to common needs and desires across Big Sky. One person suggested a gondola connecting US Highway 191 to Big Sky Resort with a midway station in Meadow Village.

The gondola proposal was greeted with some laughter, but other ideas seemed to be given serious consideration, including a pool with water programs for swim teams, swimming lessons, physical education, and other options.

After listing many ideas, Millard asked each table to combine pre-cut slices into a pie chart to visualize cost and prioritization. She asked each table to come to a consensus so that one member could present their proposal to the entire group.

One team proposed a multi-faceted center that includes a library, ice rink and social spaces. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

Most groups suggested a water facility with some capacity, ranging from hybrids with libraries and resource centers to a dedicated pool with additional services like hot tubs and programming.

“I’ve been suggesting a pool for 30 of the 33 years I’ve lived here,” said one moderator. Noting that the cost of a full indoor aquatic center was a barrier, she said that with a less expensive outdoor pool, “we could get people swimming next summer.”

“[An outdoor pool] is a big community focus in every small town in Montana. We’re a seasonal city and we play seasonal sports. In the summer we go outside. We don’t want to go into a noisy indoor water center.”

Other voices spoke about the potential benefits of a year-round pool for fitness and mental health, and the challenges of heating an outdoor pool. In both capacities, much of Wednesday’s discussion focused on the need for access to swimming in Big Sky.

The outdoor pool was proposed to save funding for other amenities. The green stickers represent the first and second choices of the participants who had the opportunity to vote. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

“This is just the beginning of the community brainstorming process,” Millard told EBS. “At this point in time, no architect is involved, there is no building or system planning. This is about finding out what amenities the Big Sky community wants in their future recreational facility.”

The complexity and location of the design will affect the timeline for the project, but there are no firm dates.

“It will be a while before we collect all the data, maybe by the end of December,” Montgomery told EBS. “But it will take this whole group to fulfill the next plan. We all need to engage in this process. We will find a way to communicate the results.”

Montgomery added that funding will be the next step as the current goal is to listen to community needs.