Billings Recreation Center Project Open House Draws Large Crowds

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The concept and design phase is underway for a community recreation center project in South Billings.

It was evident at Tuesday night’s open forum that there was a lot of excitement about the possibility of indoor recreation that could be used for a number of purposes, including swimming, skating, soccer, basketball, volleyball, pickleball and other sports.

“I would really like to see a big pool where we can have competitions,” 12-year-old Jackson Stricker said. “Right now we’re everywhere we are at Yellowstone Fitness, MSUB and Rocky and we would really like to have one place where we can congregate and have big meetups and stuff.”

The forum attracted a large crowd who wanted to see what might be in the plans and give their opinion.

“This is an opportunity to invest in children, families and active seniors in our community,” said Kory Thomson, Superintendent of Billings Parks and Recreation.

The multi-generational community recreation center would be built on 10 acres of land the city owns adjacent to Amend Park.

Dick Zier is president of the South Billings Urban Renewal TIF District. He thinks the recreation center would bring a lot of competitions and tournaments to the area and that’s something Billings is sorely lacking.

“We see it as something that will meet the needs of the community and a real boost for economic development. If you go down to the South Side now, you see several restaurants moving there, and there are other businesses planning to do so. It also creates a lot of economic activity for the south side,” Zier said.

People were able to pin notes with their suggestions on a board that will be considered. Ice cream was top of the list for many.

“I am an adult figure skater and compete on the national adult skating circuit so I am very interested in the advent of a new rink here in town, especially one that will be available year-round. “said Sol Lovas, who can only practice her favorite sport a few months a year when she can get on the ice.

Others are eager to have a place to play hockey for youth and adults.

“I’m here for the ice, but any other facilities would be amazing,” said John Gizicki.

City Administrator Chris Kukulski said money from the city’s tax increase funding district was already available for the first $35 million, but the price could end up being much higher than that depending on what is included in the installation – and that would then fall on taxpayers in the form of a construction obligation.

“It totally depends on the size and scale of what the community ends up wanting. Does he want two patches of ice or no ice? Does he want a 50m pool or no pool? a huge impact on total costs,” Kukulski said.

Input from Tuesday’s open forum and other surveys will be used to give designers an idea of ​​what the public wants and what it will cost. Later this year, Billings City Council will decide whether to issue a bond in front of voters – which would happen in 2023.

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