Timeline and Scoping for Fulfilling the McCormick Park Master Plan: A Community Center for Missoula

The  Time is Now

Since 1998, the need for a community center has been identified and reiterated in more than 20 Missoula community studies, market analyses, public planning processes, and in every recreation needs study for Missoula since 2004. Since that time, the Missoula Community Center Working group of citizens (recently reformed as Friends of Missoula Community Center or FMCC), along with Parks and Recreation staff, have continued to gather information, garner support, and explore alternatives to bring the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity to fruition. In a time when our city is rapidly growing and diversifying, a community center offers Missoulians an opportunity to come together for social, emotional, and physical health and will help Missoulians maintain their strong pride of place.

Key Events (most recent to earliest)
  • The City of Missoula hires MMW/NAC Architects along with Ginny Tribe to lead a 6-month community engagement process to develop a detailed design for a community center in McCormick Park as an addition to the Currents Aquatics Center.

  • FMCC hires Curt Miner & Associates to guide its development as an organization and serve as counsel to develop marketing, outreach and fundraising plans.

  • The FMCC engages Friends of Missoula Parks as a fiscal sponsor. Missoula Parks & Recreation puts out a Request for Qualifications from architectural firms with experience working on projects for community centers or comparable, multi-function, public activity spaces.

  • 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 City of Missoula identifies a community center in McCormick Park as part of its City of Missoula Strategic Plan 2020 -2023.  A community center becomes one of the City of Missoula’s highest priorities for addressing equity and serving as a hub to engage neighborhoods. 

  • Worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) briefly pauses advancement of this effort.

  • Implementation Phase. Concept site design by MMW Architects of Missoula.  Engagement of counsel to non-profits to develop marketing, funding, and outreach plans.

  • Parks, Recreation, Trails, and Open Space Needs Assessment (PROST) identifies and reaffirms community support for activities congruent with a community center

  • Check-in Interviews with community leaders and stakeholder groups (Facility Workshop). Initial formation of Friends of the Missoula Community Center to advance the implementation of the Missoula Community Center

  • Meetings with stakeholder groups (Cultural Workshop). Request for Qualifications/Proposals for Architect and Engineering Services for Design Development, Cost Estimating and Phased Development Planning for Missoula Community Center

  • A Ballard*King report notes that expanding the Currents Aquatic Center to include additional community space leads to a beneficial operating net balance of up to 20% greater due to synergy and shared operational costs.

  • A Missoula Growth Policy Objectives, Actions and Outcomes document, and specifically Goals #7.14 and #10.10 note the need for indoor recreation, cultural and gathering spaces. A community center meets the Missoula Growth Policy goals of Community Design, Livability, Safety and Wellness 2013: A market feasibility study in partnership with Club Sports and Run Wild Missoula ultimately finds that a community center located as an expansion of Currents in McCormick Park, which is multi-use, inclusive and affordable, would receive the greatest community support with the best operational costs projections.

  • An opinion poll by ProsConsulting regarding citizens’ views and needs for parks, trails, recreation and other related services and amenities in Missoula shows strong support for wellness, learning, and cultural activities that require indoor “community center” space.

  • A significant downturn in the national economy puts the Community Center for Missoula Project on hold.

  • The City of Missoula site-suitability engineering study of McCormick Park deems the site suitable for consideration as a construction site for a major facility. This design schematic appears as the McCormick 2 attachment in Resolution 6845 approved by the City Council on September 27, 2004.

  • The Missoula City Council adopts Resolution 6776, The Master Park and Recreation Plan for the Greater Missoula Area. A key recommendation of this plan states that “Missoula should consider construction of a multipurpose recreation center. In addition to the aquatics components that have already been planned and funded, a multipurpose recreation center could accommodate a variety of recreational and leisure-time activities, including serving the senior population, providing a place for teens and youth to congregate, and serving the general population with indoor arts and crafts spaces, a gym or multipurpose field house, and meeting spaces. The McCormick Park Master Plan shows land set aside for a community center.”

  • A survey by the Missoula Community Center working group, a citizen’s advisory committee, compared the operational costs of 12 community centers in Colorado and 3 in Missouri to the projected operational costs of a Missoula Community Center. The survey results show that community centers in conjunction with aquatic facilities are more cost-effective for operations.

  • The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s (BBER) survey of citizens, in conjunction with the City of Missoula Comprehensive Master Park Plan process, identifies strong support for park-related indoor cultural and recreational facilities. This survey complements the City of Missoula 1998 community-wide needs assessment, which showed strong support for indoor programs and facilities.

  • The Missoula City Council unanimously approves Resolution 6668 endorsing the McCormick Park Site Plan following an extensive public process. The plan includes a set-aside footprint of real property within McCormick Park, not to exceed 80,000 square feet, and a commitment to explore support and funding for a year-round community center.

  • The McCormick Park Master Plan Working Group, a citizen’s advisory committee, supports the allocation of space within McCormick Park for a community center. Neighborhood and public review and comments support the McCormick Plan. Space is allocated for an aquatic center with set asides for a future community center and skate park.

  • Celebrate 2000 Community Forums, a Lee Enterprises project, endorses a community center for Missoula as one of three major community projects, and provides $40,000 in funding for the advancement of this project.

  • A survey of Missoula organizations as part of the Celebrate 2000 effort identifies both the support and need for a community center.