Frequent Questions

What is meant by “Fulfilling the McCormick Park Master Plan”?


In 2003, after extensive research and a public process led by the Missoula Parks and Recreation Department and a citizens working group borne from Celebrate 2000, the Missoula City Council endorsed the McCormick Park Master Site Plan (Resolution 6888). This included setting aside real property for a year-round community center, citing as one of many reasons: “… there has been much additional support for a community center to allow year round indoor recreation, cultural, and social opportunities.”




What is a community center?


There are a number of definitions of “community center” but they all share a common theme that is reflected in Missoula’s Community Center: An indoor public facility offering Missoula’s citizens affordable social, cultural, educational and recreational activities year-round.




Who will use the Missoula Community Center?


People of all ages and abilities will use the Community Center. Envision a vital, active, multi-purpose facility where youth, teens, young, middle-aged, and older citizens come to an easily-accessible, central location in Missoula to participate in social interactions, cultural explorations, educational opportunities, indoor-recreation activities, and wellness. Please see the 2018 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) plan (Indoor Center starts on pag 67)




What type of activities will be offered at the Missoula Community Center?


Surveys, community charrettes, workshops, and formal studies have all indicated the need and desire for an appropriate year-round, indoor space for group activities. Over the years, the demand has increased for indoor active space to address longer seasons of fire and smoke as well as extended icy winters.

Examples include shared meals, card games, and other social activities. Dance lessons, art classes, performances, festivals and workshops are examples of arts and cultural events.

Other needs expressed are space for health and wellness classes for all ages; after-school programs and summer camps for youth; and volleyball, basketball, and pickleball. These examples are not exhaustive but represent the range of activities that appeal to a variety of citizens.

Please see the 2018 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) plan (Indoor Center starts on pag 67)




Why is it the right time to finalize and build the Community Center?


Missoula’s Community Center had its genesis 20 years ago during “Celebrate 2000” community forums and the project was subsequently included in the 2004 Missoula City-County Comprehensive Master Parks and Recreation Plan. This Plan established goals, policies, actions and implementation tools to provide a high-quality green infrastructure of parks, trails, conservation lands, and recreational opportunities for all Missoula citizens. It is time to focus efforts on Missoula’s Community Center.




What does the Master Plan include about a Community Center?


An explicit need for a Community Center was noted in the Master Park Plan as follows: “…(i)t is projected that aquatic facilities, recreation/community centers and walking trails will continue to grow in demand.” Furthermore, “(t)he demands identified point to the need for a multi-purpose recreation center with a field house/gym, arts/crafts components and facilities for teens and seniors” (Chapter Three, page 3-30).




What does the City Growth Policy say?


In November 2015, the City Council adopted “Our Missoula,” a community plan to create a sustainable, resilient, livable community. Throughout the document, multiple references are made to the need for indoor recreation, cultural and gathering spaces which meet Growth Policy goals in Community Design, Livability, Safety and Wellness.




Why is McCormick Park the best location for a community center?


McCormick Park is located in the heart of the city of Missoula. It is easily accessible via multiple means of transportation due to its proximity to miles of walking and bike paths leading right to the facility’s door. Vehicular access is available by major thoroughfares such as Orange, Russell, Wyoming, and Broadway Streets while Mountainline bus stops are a block away.

The central location serves Missoula’s most socio-economically diverse populations and is within blocks of our highest density neighborhoods. Not only can the facility serve our social, cultural, recreation, and wellness needs, but it can serve our community well in times of distress by providing critical space for any number of needs.

In addition to transportation access, another important benefit to the Community Center located at McCormick Park is the connection to Currents, Missoula’s most popular city-owned aquatics facility. Currents hosts an indoor water park featuring a children’s water playground, fitness pool, lap lanes, and two water slides.

The connection of these two assets promotes multi-purpose activities for families and groups for indoor recreation. Some members will swim or take lessons at Currents while, down the hall in the Community Center, other family members are actively participating in a dance lesson, an art class, an energetic lap around a walking track, or perhaps a game of pinochle or cribbage.




How much will it cost to build?


Community centers range greatly in price based upon square footage, location, finishes, amenities, and related construction costs. After a professional design study is conducted this Fall/Winter, a better estimate will be available.




How will ongoing costs be paid?


Based upon current Parks and Recreation Department policies regarding facilities and services and taking into account the 2016 Ballard*King study, a preliminary analysis projects the facility can operate at a break-even point through user fees and sales. An indepth review of financial reports from over 20 operating community centers in Colorado and Missouri show that community centers attached to an aquatics facility can be profitable.




There are many places in Missoula for recreation and fitness. How is the Community Center any different?


The vision of the Community Center is to provide opportunities for social interaction, cultural exploration, and programs that focus on physical health and well-being in an atmosphere that is multi-generational and inclusive. The Center will serve as a centralized location for social gatherings but also a hub for information about activities and services available elsewhere in the city (e.g. during a during a pandemic where can I get a test? During smoke season when is it safe for me to run outside?). It will complement and benefit existing organizations with appropriate space for events, classes, exhibitions, and performances. It has always been a goal of the Missoula Community Center to build on a foundation of collaboration and leverage the talents and experience of Missoula's many varied organizations.




What are the next steps to getting the Community Center completed?


An updated concept design was completed by MMW Architects of Missoula in November of 2019. During 2020 a counsel to non-profits will be contracted to review innovative organizational funding strategies culminating in recommendations taken forward in 2021 to the appropriate boards and governmental decision-makers for support, approval, and adoption. After this final phase, tangible movement will begin on a capital campaign.




How do I learn more?


The Friends of the Missoula Community Center, comprised of interested citizens and representatives from organizations that support the Community Center’s vision, meets on a regular basis at Parks and Recreation. If you would like more information, please email parksrec@ci.missoula.mt.us or ContactUs@missoulacommunitycenter.org




What does the 2018 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) plan say?


"37% of households said they would use an indoor recreation center; more than half of households with kids said they would use it." "38% of households said there needs to be an indoor recreation facility; about half of households with kids said there needs to be a new indoor recreation facility." "Households that intended to use a new recreation center were much more likely to believe the area needed a new recreation center." "Clearly, most households believed that a new recreation center should serve a multigenerational population." "Fifty-eight percent of households said a new recreation facility should prioritize offering fitness and wellness." Please see the 2018 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) plan (Indoor Center starts on pag 67)




What does the Climate Ready Missoula Plan say about a community center?


The Climate Ready Missoula Plan adopted in May 2020 states as one of its goals to "Find, develop and promote indoor recreation, exercise and creative activity spaces that are available to individuals and recreational programs (youth and adult) that are accessible to all income levels." The Missoula Community Center plan satisfies this goal.




Is Missoula enrolled in AARP's Age-Friendly Network?


The common thread among communities enrolled in AARP's Age-Friendly Network is the belief that the places where we live are more livable, and better able to support people of all ages, when local leaders commit to improving the quality of life for the very young, the very old, and everyone in between. AARP's Age-Friendly Network AARP's Age-Friendly Network Community Application (to be completed by City of Missoula) Currently, Missoula Aging Services is focused on Missoula's efforts to support a Dimentia Friendly Community.




Is it unusual for an effort to establish a community center to take so long?


It is not unusual for major citizen-driven projects like a community center to take 20 to 25 years to realize. As an example, the recently completed Fort Missoula Regional Park is the results of a 25-year collaborative effort between a citizen's group and the City of Missoula. The rate of progress is often dependent on the availability of dedicated citizens, most holding down fulltime jobs, to coordinate and collaborate with partners like the City of Missoula and advance the community conversation over the longrun. With major investments it is important to get it right, and often there are false starts because of economic or development uncertainties. Friends of Missoula Community Center is always open to those interested in joining in to help advance this effort.