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.

Citizens, in collaboration with Missoula Parks and Recreation staff, have continued to gather information, garner support, and explore alternatives to bring the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC) 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 sense of place. A stronger sense of community.

PHASE 7: Building Community Support

The Converge Foundation is collaborating with Mayor Davis and members of the Missoula City Council to secure funding to construct the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC).

To better inform and connect with Missoulians, The Converge Foundation launches its new website created by the local firm Gecko Designs.

In the Missoula County 2024 Housing and Community Development Survey “mental health” and “community center” ranked above other facilities with 57% support by residents within the city.

Over the past two years members of the board of The Converge Foundation (TCF) held 1- to 2-hour conversations with representatives of over 120 organizations and over 100 community members to discuss the potential of the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC). Findings on transportation needs were discussed with City officials.

The Converge Foundation concludes the first three brainstorming sessions focused on the arts, sports, and social services programming needs. TCF has had conversations touching on the needs and aspirations of marginalized groups, cultural organizations, persons with disabilities, as well as about growing social isolation, the mental health epidemic, the social effects of climate change and many other topics.

The City of Missoula 2024-2028 Consolidated Plan and Equity Plan Update, presented to City Council in December 2023, identified new community and recreation centers (page 20) as one of the three top community development needs.

The Converge Foundation (TCF) completed one of its most successful fundraising campaigns by exceeding its end-of-year goal to fund its 2024 Educational Campaign. TCF’s Educational Campaign will create broader community awareness of the potential of the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity.

The Converge Foundation hosted two additional brainstorming sessions with organizations having an interest in intergenerational programming, and organizations who currently offer activity space for public use.

The Converge Foundation celebrates the conclusion of its second year of operations and produced its second impact report.

TCF expands it board from 3 to 5 members.

The Converge Foundation contracted with the local firm Times2Studio to develop a new logo, style sheet, and preliminary marketing materials to brand the organization. TCF participated in Missoula Gives 2023, producing its first promotional video. Purchased professional software to assist in the management of outreach and constituent contacts.

The Converge Foundation began to investigate the relationship of housing, climate, mental health, economic (business) impact, and return-on-investment relative to the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC). There is a direct relationship between each of these sectors and the CCRC.

PHASE 6: Fourth Time’s a Charm

The Converge Foundation celebrates the conclusion of its second year of operations and produced its first impact report. TCF’s members contribute over 2000 hours of volunteer time targeted at public outreach or organizational development.

The Converge Foundation was established as a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit for the purpose of providing philanthropic support for the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC)

Many of the City of Missoula Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Resolution 8553 goals parallel the guiding principles for the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC).

The Converge Foundation (formerly Friends of the Missoula Community Center) conducted and continues to conduct extensive community outreach to users and user groups to learn more about programming and space needs.

The City Council followed suit in May, adopting the conceptual plan for the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC), signaling that the center’s inclusive design aligns with resident priorities.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board adopted the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC) conceptual plan. This was preceded by the proposed 2004 Missoula Community Center Plan and Aquatics Plan, the Cold Springs School investigation, and exploring a collaboration with Missoula International Schools.

PHASE 5: Rebirth

The Friends of the Missoula Community Center (FMCC) began the process of reforming as The Converge Foundation with the goal of providing philanthropic support for the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity (CCRC) when the City of Missoula has secured funding and completed construction.

Missoula Energy & Climate Team Resolution 2021-3A: A resolution in support of the use of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy efforts in the proposed Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity and to educate citizens about those efforts.

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. In November 2021, the City of Missoula’s citizens Working Group adopted the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity conceptual plan that included several guiding principles.

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. 

The Friends of the Missoula Community Center engages Friends of Missoula Parks as a fiscal sponsor.

Friends of the Missoula Community Center hires Curt Miner & Associates to guide its development as an organization and serve as counsel to develop marketing, outreach, and fundraising plans.

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 Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity plan satisfies this goal.

PHASE 4: Exploring Alternatives

Worldwide COVID pandemic in 2020 briefly pauses advancement of the community conversation to advance a community center for Missoula.

The Missoula Downtown Partnership completed Missoula’s Downtown Master Plan, which extends West to the Bitterroot Spur.  The plan identifies the Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity as an anchor facility and includes additional references to Missoula’s need for indoor gathering places.

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 Pros Consulting 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 second alternative to the Cold Springs site for a community center was considered. As a means of collaboration to reduce overall costs, the Friends of the Missoula Community Center, the City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Department, and Missoula International School engaged in a 15-month process to consider a joint community center and private school facility. Ultimately, the project was deemed infeasible. City leadership and architects all strongly recommend completing the original project at McCormick Park.

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.

Post recession, the Friends of the Missoula Community Center (FMCC) reconvened in collaboration with the City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Department to reignite the community center conversation and explore options. Mayor Engen asked the community center working group to consider the vacant Cold Springs School property as an alternative location for a community center. After further investigation the Cold Springs School was rejected primarily due to its distance from the main population centers.

PHASE 3: Fate Intervenes

A significant downturn in the national economy in 2007 puts the Community Center for Missoula Project on hold for a second time.

Formation of Friends of the Missoula Community Center (FMCC) citizens group to advance the implementation of the Missoula Community Center. FMCC conducted check-in interviews with community leaders and stakeholder groups (Facility Workshop).

A community center is a component of the City of Missoula’s 2004-2008 Strategic Plan and a priority capital project in subsequent strategic plans.

In 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. 

2004 Missoula City-County Comprehensive Master Parks and Recreation Plan: An explicit need for a community center was noted in the Master Park Plan as follows: “…it is projected that aquatic facilities, recreation/community centers and walking trails will continue to grow in demand.” Furthermore, “the 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).

The Spartan Pool in McCormick Park, one of Missoula’s only competitive pools, suffers severe structural failure and needs replacement. The Missoula Community Center effort was put on hold to address this need. In 2004 the citizens of Missoula County passed an Aquatics Facility bond to construct the Currents Aquatics Center as Phase I of the Missoula Community Center and additional aquatic facilities throughout Missoula.

PHASE 2: McCormick Park Master Plan

In 2003 The Missoula Community Center working group completes a proposed Master Plan for a community center at McCormick Park including concept drawings, construction and operational costs.

A survey by the Missoula Community Center working group, a citizens’ advisory committee, compared the operational costs of 12 community centers in Colorado and three 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.

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

Request for Qualifications/Proposals for Architect and Engineering Services for Design Development, Cost Estimating and Phased Development Planning for Missoula Community Center

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 citizens’ advisory committee, supports the allocation McCormick Park space 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.

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 and is approved by the City Council.

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.

Public meetings and citizen surveys conducted in 2001 indicated very strong support for a community center with a cultural component.

PHASE 1: Celebrate Missoula

Celebrate 2000 Participant

Out of 12 projects presented, the Celebrate 2000 Community Forums endorsed a community center for Missoula as one of three transformative projects for Missoula and provides $40,000 in funding to advance the project.

A community center was an identified component of the Missoula Parks and Recreation planning activities in 1999-2002.

The Celebrate 2000 Community Forums conducts a survey of 140 Missoula organizations. This survey identified both the support and the need for a community center. Over the next 18 months, approximately 150 Missoulians met to identify three transformative projects for the community.

Celebrate 2000 Community Forums, a Lee Enterprises led project, kicks off. Community sponsors of Celebrate 2000 include The University of Montana, the Missoulian, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Community Medical Center, First Security Bank, KMSO Radio, KPAX-TV, Merrill Lynch, Montana Mortgage Company, and Smurfit-Stone Container. Over

“Front-porch” meetings held during 1999 in Missoula’s neighborhoods reinforced the need for indoor community gathering spaces.

The City of Missoula 1998 community-wide needs assessment showed strong support for indoor programs and facilities in our community.