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BASE community center construction in full swing

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Ongoing construction at Len Hill Park on the BASE community center. PHOTOS BY BRANDON WALKER

Portion of funding still needed

By Brandon Walker

BIG SKY – If you’ve passed by Len Hill Park in Big Sky Town Center recently, you no doubt noticed the steel beams reaching toward the sky and the hum of machinery moving material throughout the job site. These are the sights and sounds of progress on the BASE community center, anticipated to be completed in the winter of 2021. 

Project Superintendent Dan Ross told EBS that 85 percent of the steel is in position as of Oct. 7. He also said that pre-cast walls would be erected the remainder of the week with framing slated to begin the week of Oct. 12. 

Big Sky Community Organization CEO Ciara Wolfe noted that, prior to any visible building, construction took place underground throughout the summer. To date, fundraising efforts have collected more than $20 million for the project, and Wolfe estimates that BSCO still needs roughly $600,000 to finish covering all expenses by the end of construction as costs continue to fluctuate.

Wolfe pointed to the community’s diversity and strong interest in the center as being major components of the project’s success so far. “All ages, all lengths of time they’ve lived here, if they’re here year round or part time—we really had folks that were committed to fundraising and sharing the story with their circles of influence.”

One of those people was community member Bob Hall, who learned of the project through conversations with friends and colleagues and chose to get involved. 

“The only indoor gathering places in Big Sky were the [Big Sky County Water and Sewer District] office and the school,” said Hall, who has been a part of the community since 2003. “Other than that, any place where you could gather a crowd served alcohol and that was a problem. We thought that needed to be addressed.”

Hall contacted Wolfe to see how he could best assist the effort and fill the void within the community. Together with BSCO Board of Directors member Steve Taylor, Hall sought funding from members of the Yellowstone Club after describing why he felt the project was necessary.

According to the BSCO website, more than 430 people have made donations to fund the construction of BASE. The project’s origin dates back as far as 2017 when Big Sky residents identified a community center as their No. 1 priority in a Big Sky Parks and Open Space Plan that BSCO compiled. Wolfe said the completion of the community center would check another box off the list to making Big Sky a sustainable year-round community.

“I can’t wait to be able to walk into that building and just hear it full of people all ages just really enjoying it and coming together and having a place that makes them feel like this is home,” Wolfe said.

When the building is complete, Len Hill Park will be expanded by 43 percent, according to Wolfe. With a wide array of activities and options available inside, programs will include health and wellness, preventative behavioral health, youth and art programming, climbing courses, and fitness classes. And while construction will continue this winter, the popular ice hockey rink will open for the winter season as scheduled.

Hall said he was excited for the variety of program options that will be offered at the community center once it’s complete. “I just think it’s a real opportunity to build community around fairly serious issues,” he said.

And Hall is thrilled for the Big Sky community to have a space they can call their own.

“What I’m looking forward to is driving slowly by BASE, the community center, seeing a full parking lot, seeing kids and families walk in and out—rushing in and out—using it to its fullest abilities,” Hall said.

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