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Leading up to resort tax appropriations, Big Sky businesses update community on looming changes

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By Taylor Anderson, Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

About 125 members of the Big Sky community packed the chapel basement on April 11 for a three-hour update from various business leaders heading into the Big Sky Resort Tax appropriations in June.

The turnout was about double what the annual meeting typically draws, according to the Chamber, perhaps indicating a greater interest from residents on changes in their community.

The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce organized and ran the meeting, with new board president Dave O’Connor acting as overseer. O’Connor was one of four new members of the now seven-person board. John Richardson, Bill Simkins and Sarah Phelps are also new to the board.

The meeting was also attended by the A/D Creative Group hired by the Chamber for a three-year, three-phase marketing plan, the second phase of which the Chamber has asked for funding from the resort tax board.

The group’s president, Eric Finstad, along with another employee, presented to the group their ideas after months of brainstorming of what makes Big Sky a great place. The result: time.

Big Sky is the only “uncrowded resort community that offers a gateway to adventure coupled with Americana and Western romance, for adventurers seeking unique and authentic self-expression in a natural alpine environment, where time is the greatest currency, and in an era when people think there is nothing new to be discovered,” the group’s presentation said in what it calls the town’s “only” statement.

Finstad then presented hundreds of logos, one of which will be used for town branding and marketing campaigns. The selected logo (a draft of which is shown above) incorporates the natural aspects of the community in a diamond-shaped logo with Lone Peak acting as top, the meadow and the West Fork.

The Chamber board highlighted its future plans, some of which depend on funding from resort tax, including hiring three new employees to work the visitor information center.

The visitor center is also a topic of potential change for the Chamber, which is talking with the owner of a property on the corner of Lone Mountain Trail and Highway 191 about leasing that building as a different location for better exposure to the millions of visitors driving the canyon annually.
Allen Armstrong from Gallatin County GIS presented his findings on public and private roadways in Big Sky. He also said that there has never officially been a Big Sky Spur Road, and that GIS will work at affirming Route 64 in Big Sky as Lone Mountain Trail.

Architect Wayne Freeman presented ideas for a 35-foot tall by 100-foot long entryway monument to be placed 40 feet off the highway. Also near the intersection would be eight decorative roadway lights staggered from the intersection to the bridge.

The Chamber this year will ask for more funding from the tax board than ever, saying in a press release that its projects are “strategically designed to bring more people to Big Sky.

In order, the Chamber has ranked its application in three priority tiers. First, for $400,000, the group wants to fund its staff, Biggest Skiing in America marketing campaign, and wayfinding signage construction. For $180,000, the Chamber has asked for the roadway lighting, phase two of the town’s marketing plan, and the cost of leasing the building at the intersection. The last tier of the application is the entry monument construction documents and printing of the Chamber’s publications, totaling $60,000, bringing the total to $640,000.
Other presenters at the meeting included Anne Marie Mistretta and John Zirkle from the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, Jessie Neal from the Big Sky Community Corporation, Brian Hurlbut from Arts Council of Big Sky, Lisa Beczkiewicz from Women in Action, and Ryan Hamilton, representing the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center committee.

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