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Aim High/Big Sky; new recreation center coming to Great Falls

A 3-D design of the proposed aquatics and recreation center.

Proposed aquatics and recreation center (Courtesy photo)

A 3-D design of the proposed aquatics and recreation center.

Proposed aquatics and recreation center (Courtesy photo)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

A new aquatics and recreation center will be built on ten acres of land, right outside of Malmstrom Air Force Base over the next few years.

This new facility will accommodate the training and fitness needs of Airmen and their families while promoting readiness and boosting morale. It will also strengthen community ties with the City of Great Falls, as local families are welcome too.

The city recently received a ten million dollar grant from the Department of Defense Community Infrastructure program in order to make this happen.

Aim High/Big Sky Recreation Center falls under Tier I – Enhances Military Family Quality of Life of the DCIP.

This new facility will provide additional aquatic fun and fitness opportunities including water aerobics, swimming lessons, kayaking and diving. It will go by the name of Aim High/Big Sky Recreation Center.

There will be a lap pool, therapeutic pool, recreational pool for community and service member families, general open fitness areas, an indoor gym space, drop-off child care, classrooms and ancillary support facilities.

The recreation center is a shared vision of local residents, elected officials, Airmen and their families, and installation commanders.

The construction of an indoor pool has been an installation priority for a while and was part of a previously designed Fitness Center MILCON project back in 2005. However, the pool was not constructed due to funding limitations.

”This grant provides a great opportunity for the community of Great Falls,” said Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander. “The fitness facility will have resounding positive impacts on both the local community and the base population, supporting our fitness, mission, and quality of life needs.”

Malmstrom is the only base in the northern tier that does not have an indoor pool, which can cause problems when it comes to training opportunities due to the short summers and long winters.

The 40th Helicopter Squadron and 120th Airlift Wing both require water rescue/survival training to maintain flying mission qualifications. The lack of an indoor pool leads to spending $52,000 annually in order to send personnel to other locations to complete the required training.

An indoor pool adjacent to Malmstrom would benefit over 4,000 Airmen and family members with year-round recreational, fitness and training opportunities. This facility will give Airmen more options to have fun and maintain mission readiness, as well as more opportunities to integrate with the Great Falls community.

This project is supported by numerous members on Malmstrom, as well as the Montana Air National Guard and various state and local officials.

“I would like to provide my full support to the city of Great Falls’ application for a Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program grant to help fund a world-class indoor fitness pool near Malmstrom Air Force Base,” said General Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander in an official document.

This partnership could potentially foster mutually beneficial collaborations between the City and the base, ultimately making Great Falls an even better place to live and Malmstrom a more desirable duty station for Airmen.

This project is expected to take no more than five years from now to complete.