BIG SKY COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION
With the financial support of the Len Hill Charitable Trust, and in-kind support of the Simkins family and 15 additional donors, the Big Sky Community Organization is under contract to purchase 3.3 acres in the heart of Big Sky.
The parcel, located in Town Center along Aspen Leaf Drive and between Ousel Falls Road and Simkins Drive, includes the current Town Center Park that houses the Music in the Mountains concert series and Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association’s ice rink, along with the currently vacant gravel parking area to the east. By purchasing this property, the community is ensured a permanent place to gather outside and enjoy recreational and enrichment opportunities.
After 9 months of planning, BSCO is expected to close on the parcel before the end of the year thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Len Hill Charitable Trust, pending the signature of a final grant agreement later this month.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to give back to Big Sky while also being able to honor my late husband, Len Hill, with such a transformational project in a community that we loved dearly together,” said Patricia Gordon from the Len Hill Charitable Trust.
Existing green space will be increased significantly on the parcel with parkland improvements as well as space for future indoor community facilities.
“To be able to anchor 3.3 acres of valuable real estate in the heart of our community for parkland and community facilities is a dream come true,” said BSCO Executive Director Ciara Wolfe. “We recognize that the decisions we make today are charting the future of our community. The existing asset was too important to our overall community civic infrastructure and this step ensures the park remains a park for the rest of time, while also providing much needed land for expansion of parkland and future community facilities.”
This acquisition is the initial step for BSCO in its civic infrastructure improvements outlined in the recently completed Master Parks and Open Space plan, which assessed current and future needs for the growing community. Strong partnerships with existing landowners, philanthropic supporters and other nonprofit organizations have been key to making this acquisition possible.
Metrics show that assets of this type in a community aimed to bring diverse populations together ultimately develops trust between people, perceptions of safety and a community’s ability to draw together people of different incomes, races and backgrounds. BSCO aims to create places for the community to gather and facilities that promote further programming and opportunity for everyone in Big Sky.
“This acquisition allows us to continue hosting some of Big Sky’s favorite events including weekly Thursday night Music in the Mountains concerts and the Classical Music Festival, even with the significant growth in attendance we are experiencing annually,” said Brian Hurlbut, executive director of the Arts Council of Big Sky. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with BSCO on this incredible community project.”
Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association Board Chair Ryan Blechta was also excited about the announcement. “BSCO securing a forever home for our ice rink allows us to raise the necessary funds to bring a refrigerated rink to Big Sky this winter and expand the service we provide for an additional three months each winter.”
“During a time of rapid growth within Big Sky, it is critical we continue to expand our civic infrastructure to meet our growing community’s needs, ensuring no one is left without the opportunity to lead a healthy, happy, engaged lifestyle in our community,” Wolfe added. “We will be excited to share plans for a future phase of community facilities on this parcel when they are complete, knowing that it will take the entire community to make them come to fruition.”