This has been discussed over the years – it will be interesting to see if voters approve of the measure.
City to consider building pool, library for west Bozeman
by Nora Shelly Chronicle Staff Writer Jan 11, 2023
The city of Bozeman has long kicked around the idea of building a recreational facility on the west side of town, with proposals for it to include a pool and a library branch.
Now, as city staff are in the early stages of laying out the project, it has a new name: the Bozeman Community Center.
City Manager Jeff Mihelich said they thought the name would be more appropriate during a presentation about the plans at this week’s city commission meeting.The city does not have definitive designs or a budget in mind yet, Mihelich said.
“It’s a process of what you’d like to see in a facility first, and then talk about space, and then talk about price,” Mihelich said.
The discussion was the start of what will be a long planning period for the project. The city is proposing to ask voters during the local elections this November whether they want to fund the project.
Jon Henderson, the city’s strategic services director, said combining a recreational center with a library branch will give the city “more bang for its buck,” citing high construction costs.
City Parks and Recreation Director Mitch Overton and Library Director Susan Gregory said during this week’s meeting that as the city’s population has grown, so has demand for their services.
A west Bozeman branch will make recreation and library services more accessible to more city residents, the two said. Both mentioned that residents and staff members alike have identified the need for more services on the west side for years.
“Recreation centers are really about access, exposure and opportunity for health and wellness and recreational opportunities for everyone,” Overton said. “This is not a fitness club, this is about ease of access and low intimidation.”
Henderson said the city will solicit public input over the next few months, then come back to the commission with a better estimate of the design and price for the facility over the summer.
Commissioners would have to vote to approve the bond language by August to get it on the ballot, Henderson said.The city expects the project will require two ballot questions, Henderson said, one to approve a bond to build the facility, and another to approve a tax levy to fund its operations, including equipment and staff.Henderson said a recent survey conducted by the city showed 65% of respondents had “some level of support” to fund the facility.
The city is looking for input on exactly what residents would like to see in the facility, Henderson said, and to gauge what increase in taxes people may be willing to bear to pay for it.There is an online survey at engage.bozeman.net about the project
Henderson said they are planning for more public events, including one in late February, and that they expect to narrow down the concept designs and cost estimates through the spring and early summer.
Part of the cost estimate will include figuring out what equipment and staff will be needed to operate the proposed facility, Henderson said.
If the facility bond passes, Henderson said they would likely start planning right away and kick off construction in 2025. Building would probably take about two years, Henderson said.
Several city commissioners told city staff they’d like to see an emphasis on reaching a wide swath of people during the public outreach process, including trying to get input from those who may not make use of existing city facilities.