BIG HORN — The Sheridan County School District 1 Recreation District is taking another stab at establishing a community center in Big Horn, this time with a broader community outreach effort.
“We got a lot of feedback (last year) that people would have liked to see us involve and engage the community a little more before going to the county commissioners,” Recreation District Board President Zach Cummins said Monday.
As a result, the recreation district has sent out a survey to neighbors around the proposed location of the center — just past the Big Horn Y on the way to the small community at the base of the Big Horns. The district surveyed parents of students last year, but decided to be more inclusive this time around, including all neighbors.
“We’re trying to engage more of the population, find out how people feel about it and really do more homework this time,” Cummins said.
Public relations representative Kelly Pascal Gould said more than 100 surveys have been completed already and she hopes to have a feel for community direction by the end of the week.
The proposed building will be approximately 7,500 square feet and will include activity, classroom and office space. Cummins said the district plans to fund the project with the $650,000 in insurance money received after the bus barn formerly on the property burned down.
Following the fire, the recreation district purchased the bus barn property from the Apostolic Lutheran Church for $300,000 with the intention of building the community center. But, when the district attempted to push through the project last year, it was met with resistance from several neighbors and was denied a conditional use permit by the Sheridan County Board of County Commissioners.
Some changes have been made to project since last year. This go-round will not include a proposed tennis facility — the proposed height of which many neighbors opposed last year.
Otherwise, Cummins said, plans for the community center itself are nearly identical. They hope to offer a place to provide services, support and recreation opportunities to Big Horn families. The recreation district has also begun discussions with the Sheridan YMCA about potentially operating and providing programming for the facility.
“We’re excited to have the YMCA as a potential partner,” Cummins said.
He added that while those discussions are in the early stages, YMCA Executive Director Jay McGinnis recommended the recreation district do some public outreach to find out what the community needs as far as programming is concerned.
“I feel like this is a great opportunity and they obviously know what they’re doing,” Cummins added.
The recreation district plans to hold a community meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Big Horn Elementary School library. Members of the SCSD1 Recreation District board and McGinnis will share information about the project, answer questions and gather community feedback.