‘Big Adventure’ in Big Sky’s First Community Center – Explore Big Sky

By Bella Butler EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – On a brisk February morning, sunlight streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the new BASE community center in downtown Big Sky. Everything about the space is big, from the recreational scope to the investment to the building itself. And if you ask those who have invested in creating the monumental community project, they say the biggest component of BASE is impact.

After years of anticipation, BASE will open its doors to the public on March 13, offering recreation, wellness programs and a gathering space as part of the mission that gives it its name: Big Adventure, Safe Environment .

Although decades old, the city of Big Sky has never had a formal community center that resembles BASE. According to Whitney Montgomery, CEO of Big Sky Community Organization, BASE will be a way of connecting.

“Without gathering space, the community will remain fragmented,” he said.

The hope for BASE is to provide a connection; a physical space to merge these fragments.

A BSCO venture, the shovels debuted on BASE in July 2019, although supply chain challenges and a difficult construction environment pushed the original opening date of December 2021 to the current date of March. The need for a community center was initially identified in a 2017 survey conducted by BSCO, where Big Sky residents identified it as their #1 priority.

After purchasing the land for the building and an adjacent park in 2018, BSCO launched a fundraising campaign that raised nearly $20 million.

“It was a big investment from the community, for the community,” said BASE director Madeleine Feher.
Now a realized vision, the modern structure is a downtown focal point, its facade boldly adorned with the word COMMUNITY.

GREAT ADVENTURE

The most visual component of BASE is recreation, a priority initiative of the Our Big Sky Vision and Strategy plan released by community partners in 2019. Montgomery said that while Big Sky provides year-round recreation largely in the form from outdoor sports like skiing, BASE will be a place to recreate in a variety of other ways, even on frigid days like those in late February.

According to Feher, the recreation planning inside the building was intended to mimic the scale of recreation in the landscape surrounding Big Sky.

“This big adventure is something we’re used to in this environment,” she said, pointing to the mountains clearly visible from BASE’s windows. “We have a really big ski resort and we live really big lives, don’t we? And when you think about your community center, you have to think big.

That was the intention, she said, behind some of BASE’s recreational spaces. Much of BASE’s ground floor is taken up by a gymnasium with six basketball hoops, pickle ball and volleyball courts, and equipment for other activities. Feher says this space will be bustling with pickup and league games. The gym also includes a walking track around the space.

Another notable recreational offering from BASE is its climbing and bouldering wall. At 25 feet with room for 15 lanes and a boulder-specific area, it’s the first of its kind in Big Sky.

Feher said BASE has partnered with the Spire Climbing Center in Bozeman to set routes on the wall, and a BASE staff member will oversee the space. The wall and rock climbing programs will also be supported by a volunteer rock climbing task force.

Upstairs, a fully equipped workout room faces Lone Mountain. This space will host many BASIC fitness classes, including yoga and strength and spin programs, among others. Feher said many of these programs are included in memberships and funded by a grant from the Behavioral Health Coalition, a local partnership founded to address behavioral health needs in the community, but specialized programs offered for limited periods will cost more expensive.

Eileen Coil, formerly of Lone Peak Physical Therapy, started with BASE in January as Fitness and Wellness Manager. Coil’s position is also funded by the Behavioral Health Coalition grant and aims to focus CORE programs that will promote wellness of mind and body, Feher said.

“She just has this mindset of, ‘I want to make you better, and I want to help you get there, and I’ll give you the tools and let’s see where it takes us,'” Feher said of Coil, who will be teaching fitness classes in addition to developing programming.

Highlighting artistic adventure, BASE will also be the new home of the Big Sky Arts Council. After being hidden in one location for 15 years, ACBS executive director Brian Hurlbut said the central location will provide the council with a better interface with the community.

“We’re going to have a lot more visibility with our staff in the community, which we’ve always wanted,” Hurlbut said.

The arts council will have both its office and an art class at BASE. The classroom will include six pottery wheels and a kiln for pottery lessons, a feature Hurlbut said his team was “over the moon”. The organization also hopes to have other classes in space, overseen by a full-time studio director and teacher.

Behind the adventure, both Montgomery and Feher said they see BASE’s recreational opportunities as pathways to connection.

Gazing at the climbing wall from the living room, Montgomery painted a picture of each of the 15 routes occupied by climbers, some who know each other, some who don’t.

“You communicate, you create a connection on the climbing wall,” he said.

Feher pointed to this opportunity.

“The ‘Grand Adventure’ is not necessarily the height of our wall,” she said. “That’s what we’re able to provide in terms of reach for the community and a safe, impactful place.”

Stay tuned for continued BASE coverage ahead of the March 13 opening.

About Ethel Partin

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