The Billings Parks and Recreation Department (PRD) is seeking public opinion on the building of a new Multi-Generational Community Recreation Center. Along with a public survey, the PRD is holding a public forum tonight at 4:30 p.m. in the community room at the Billings Public Library.

Credit: City of Billings Park and Recreation Department
Credit: City of Billings Park and Recreation Department

A project 4 years in the making.

Planning for this project started in September of 2018, and was near complete when the COVID-19 pandemic put everything on hold. Despite the hold, the Billings City Council finally adopted a master plan in December of last year.

According to a press release from the PRD, the forum will be held in an open house format, and will include, "...project goals and vision, community recreation needs and opportunities, project site discussion, programming, and building design."

The PRD will take every suggestion into account.

The Community Recreation Center is intended to bring opportunities that the public desires to the city. "[The center] needs to be a representation of what our community is looking for in terms of increased opportunities, especially for indoor recreation," said Kory Thomson, Superintendent of Recreation for Billings PRD. "That can be anything from aquatics and swimming, sports courts like volleyball, basketball, pickleball, and even ice for hockey or figure skating."

Thomson stated that Billings is large enough to have two large indoor recreation centers according to data from the National Parks and Recreation Association's 2022 Agency Performance Review. There also aren't any indoor pools that are owned and operated by the City of Billings and the PRD. "In the summer, we're fortunate to have Rose Park Pool and South Park Pool, but as soon as school starts, they're closed for the year, and they have to wait until school gets out to do any swimming," Thomson said.

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According to the press release, members of the core team for the master plan will be at the forum to help discuss ideas and take any questions the public may have. Contracted companies for the project include A&E Design, BRS Architecture, and BallardKing Associates. You can find information regarding the public forum here.

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