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New recreation center proposed in Big Sky



By Renae Counter Editorial Assistant

BIG SKY – A group of Big Sky residents are planning to build a new recreation center in the Big Sky Town Center. The idea, they say, is to enhance the area and provide indoor recreation for locals and tourists.

The team, which consists of Michelle Horning, Jamie Daugaard and Andy Dreisbach have been planning the recreation center over two years.

“We’ve been doing research about other small communities who have these types of recreation centers to see how they fit in the community,” Horning said.

The center would contain facilities for indoor soccer, basketball, tee-ball, volleyball, cardio, weights and an aquatic center. It would provide a health benefit to the community during the muddy and cold season, Daugaard said.

After this summer, the adult gym at Ophir School will be closing due to its transformation into the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. The school’s new gym will be available for indoor elementary, middle, and high school classes, but there will be little room for indoor adult fitness classes. This brings more need for a community reaction center, the group says.

“When you think of Big Sky you think of outdoor sports, but there are times where you can’t be outside or it isn’t as conducive,” Daugaard said.

They’d like the recreation center’s aquatic area to have water park features for children and families. There will also be space available for retail shops and restaurants, as well other attractions such as ski or local history museums.

“What we are trying to do is create a stimulus for other urban pioneers to build and develop around the center,” Daugaard said. “We want to fill up the restaurants and retail shops to help people who have already committed to Big Sky—we want something with depth that is healthy for the community and speaks to what Big Sky has to offer.”

The group hopes to bring in already established businesses to enhance the facility. An example of this, according to Dreisbach, would be fly fishing casting lessons hosted by a local outfitter in the middle of January, followed by a free wine tasting reception. Indoor rock climbing, spin classes and kayaking are also on the agenda.

Along with being a place for community members, the group hopes that the recreation center will help draw more people to Big Sky, especially those passing by on their way to West Yellowstone.

“Big Sky needs to have a focal point,” Daugaard said. “We are more than just the traffic light by the Conoco.”

After several presentations with Simkins-Hallin, which has developed most of the Town Center, the group has identified a suitable piece of land. The size will depend on “what the community wants to see occur,” Horning said.

The group has already developed a plan and drawing for the recreation center.

“Now, the next point is the feasibility study and getting the community involvement and input through community meetings,” Daugaard said.

The group has set up a survey to gage community interest in the project. The survey is online at

Ryan Hamilton of Big Sky Town Center is working on the rezoning requirements for the center. A building date and timeline have not been set due to the project’s dependency upon funding and community support.

The group hopes to make the center a nonprofit supported through fundraising, Big Sky Resort Tax, grants and private donations. To keep costs down, the plan is to minimize the energy used to heat and cool the building by using solar hot water systems and wind ventilation.

“Hopefully we can find people and stand on their shoulders and they can lift us up and ultimately build this project,” Daugaard said.

For further information or questions regarding the proposed recreation center, email

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