A projection of the front corner of the Big Sky Community Center, set to break ground in July. PHOTO COURTESY BSCO

Water for land

Big Sky Community Organization and Big Sky County Water and Sewer District negotiate a win-win deal
"This is great. Can we cut anymore deals like this?” board member Brian Wheeler asked at the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District meeting.

A win-win quid pro quo kind of deal was initially discussed about six months ago and has reached fruition: land for SFEs (water). 

Both the Big Sky County Water and Sewer District (BSCWSD) and Big Sky Community Organization have large projects coming down the pike and found a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Ciara Woolf, executive director of BSCO and Ron Edwards, general manager of BSCWSD recently discussed the deal at the Joint County Commission Meeting held at Big Sky Resort on April 16. BSCO relinquished nearly an acre of land just west of the existing BSCWSD treatment plant in return for 40 SFEs that would eventually allow for a swimming pool at the new BSCO community center projected to break ground in July. 

That same week, Scott Buecker of AE2S Engineering was able to become more creative with design plans for the water and sewer plant upgrade and showcase different options on slides for BSCWSD board members. The additional near-acre to the west of the existing plant will help ease the headache experts describe in keeping sewer treatment online while upgrading the facility. As was emphasized at the meeting – toilets don’t stop flushing, and constructing an upgrade while maintaining the same level of treatment required for sewage coming in is tedious at best.

 “This facilitates our plant staying online during construction of the new plant,” Edwards explained. 

Beucker noted that the additional land will allow for the new facility to be more centralized – including the MBR or membrane bio reactor. The land trade will allow for the elimination of some of the pipelines to centralize the facility. 

“This is great. Can we cut anymore deals like this?” board member Brian Wheeler asked at the BSCWSD meeting. 

Edwards requested solid numbers behind the different design options for the board to consider for the May meeting. 

BSWSD Board President Packy Cronin said in later conversation that it’s important to notice the collaborative nature of the organizations – they are working together to make Big Sky better. 

“It has been collaboration in every sense of the word and with a number of different entities to pave the way for BSCO’s community center and parkland,” Ciara Woolf executive director of BSCO explained in a later press release. 

With no existing public indoor facilities for use by the public besides the Big Sky School District and the Water Sewer District building, as well as no indoor recreational facility available to the public, a community recreation center was deemed essential by BSCO. 

Community leadership, collaboration and philanthropy have been essential drivers in the effort. 

BSCO convened a voluntary advisory committee of community leaders to direct the planning, design and construction of the civic center – to include both parkland and an indoor year-round facility. 

“To-date, more than $12 million has been raised and 3.3 acres of land has been acquired and secured as open space parkland in perpetuity in the heart of town,” the organization stated in a press release. 

BSCO’s goal is to raise the additional $5.5 million needed by the end of the summer, with ground breaking to take place in early July. The effort has been deemed the “All IN. BIG SKY,” campaign and it was stated in the press release that this organizational goal is an effort to allow for public use and spaces to keep pace with development. 

“As Big Sky continues to grow, BSCO envisions a future Big Sky which will always feel like home – with community spaces, parklands, trail systems, and recreational opportunities available to anyone with a need and interest, to people of all ages, income brackets and backgrounds,” Woolf stated. 

The space will offer: 

• Recreational areas to house and facilitate a variety of indoor and outdoor sports and art programs, which will be affordable for all income and ability levels. 

• Common spaces, meeting rooms and office spaces which will house nonprofits and community resources. 

• Community spaces available for organizations and the general public to help meet established missions. 

• A safe, substance-free year-round environment for youth. 

The community center will include: 

• Youth recreation programs and out-of-school programs while parents are working. 

• Accessibility for individuals and families of all income levels to spend time together, participate in programs and recreate indoors year-round. 

• An indoor space for parents with young children to gather when the children aren’t old enough for school. 

• A safe environment for teens and young adults to spend time together participating in activities and skills programs. 

• An environment to address prevalent behavioral and mental health issues, including substance abuse and suicide/depression preventions through the creation of an empowering support network of on-grounds counseling and community-wide resources. 

• A common community space which will house a variety of community resources in addition to opportunities to participate in health and wellness activities, regardless of age or income levels. 

For more information, visit www.bscomt.org/communitycenter.

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