MISSOULA — It has been on the backburner for nearly 20 years but an effort to expand Missoula Currents into more than a swimming facility is heating up.
The Currents facility is currently dominated by a pool, with several lanes for lap swimming, a kids area, a waterslide, a hot tub, and Missoula Parks and Recreation office space.
The project being discussed -- a “Community Center for Missoula” -- is part of phase two of the city’s master plan for McCormick Park that was laid out in 2003.
The water area would remain unchanged, but there are a lot of options being discussed for all ages and many interests.
"Am aquatics facility, gym, walking track, dance space. We want this community center to be very focused on the performing arts,” explained Missoula Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler.
“We want the community center to be very inclusive, where all people feel welcome regardless of their demographic, regardless of their economic status,” she continued.
Gaukler could see a mom swimming, a daughter shooting hoops, a son using the track, and dad practicing his dance moves all at the same time.
The addition would be to the north of Currents, toward the Clark Fork River; the facility was designed to expand that way.
The ongoing process includes public comment, open houses later this spring and summer, all eventually leading to a draft master plan ready to go in late fall.
"By November we hope we have that shared vision. And by then we'll also develop costs and strategies for implementing, if that is what Missoulians want us to do,” Gaukler told MTN News.
“It is very similar to other public park processes, where we listen, we design, we ask people to think big, think bold. We can pare down later."
Funding for the expansion could come from grants and capital campaigns, with the goal not to raise property taxes.
Gaukler says while there are gyms and theater venues around town, they are not always available to the public, and that’s why those facilities are important.
Additional information about the proposed project can be found here.