City discusses future of Natatorium - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

City discusses future of Natatorium

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The Natatorium has been causing quite the stir when it comes to the city budget, and commissioners held a work session today to discuss the future of the Morony Natatorium.

Bricks on the west side have fallen off the building and according to the city manager, the east side is no longer structurally sound. The cost to repair it all is more than half a million dollars, something the city just doesn't have. 

Currently, the city is looking to close the natatorium permanently in January of 2019. Even city manager Greg Doyon said we have to accept the fact that the natatorium is past its life expectancy.

But for the public who came to voice their opinion, they say we need indoor swimming in our community.

Maintaining municipal indoor swimming in Great Falls is a good thing. It's something that many people of Great Falls have been supporting, and its something we have had since we've had a Great Falls, said Aaron Weissman.

The commissioners agree municipal swimming is something people use regularly, especially during our colder months.

Nine months out of the year, eight at least people of low income have few health and recreational opportunities, and swimming is one of the best, said Commissioner Mary Sheehy Moe.

Now the city is forced with finding other options.

We have to start looking for partnerships with the PEAK, with the school district, the school for the deaf and blind, even hotels. Maybe there is some partnership opportunities we have with those, said Parks and Rec. Director Steve Herrig.

The commissioners even discussed getting donations, finding grant money, and fundraising as an option. They did say we, unfortunately, have to think about the *now* and the safety of the public.

During the meeting, Mayor Bob Kelly stressed the point that no matter what the future holds for the Natatorium, it will cost the city money. Whether it be tearing it down or fixing it up.  The next step is a public hearing on July 17th at the City Commission Meeting at 7 pm.