This week started out with an update from Visit Cheyenne. It was interesting to learn that visitors spent $440 million in Laramie County last year. Our hotels are 70 percent full throughout the year and that speaks well of the job Visit Cheyenne’s team is doing for us year around. I love the PR we have received in the past year. Forbes Magazine, Cowboy Lifestyle, USA Today, BuzzFeed, Drift, The Points Guy, YouTube TV, and many others have featured Cheyenne and all that we have to offer. Nice job, Domenic. Cheyenne and Laramie County residents’ support of the lodging tax makes all this possible.
We held our quarterly meeting with the mayors of Minot, N.D., and Great Falls, Mont., to update each other on the progress being made on the Sentinel missile upgrade. Because F.E. Warren is the first base scheduled to receive the update, most of the action is happening here. I feel very blessed to have Dale from our local Chamber of Commerce be part of the meetings as he has been with this program since the very beginning. It is nice to talk with folks from other states. Interesting how we seem to all share the same challenges.
Our city council has set a goal to understand the solar power industry and see if we can develop a community solar program. This program would allow residents and businesses to buy solar energy from a solar power facility in or around the city. We have held nine different meetings with industry representatives and I think we are starting to understand how challenging this program is going to be. I, ever the optimist, believe we will figure out how to get it done. I appreciate Black Hills Energy, Q Cells, and NextEra for all their time and advice.
The city of Cheyenne is bisected by many roads that are controlled by WYDOT. This means we need to communicate and work together. I met with the new director, Darin Westby, this week to start communication on things we are currently working together on and set the stage for future projects. It was a great conversation. We don’t agree on everything, but we can talk and work through the issues. Great partners are rare and I appreciate this one.
I have been meeting regularly with Sam and Carole from the Southeast Wyoming Builders Association to discuss the job the city does in supporting the building community in Cheyenne. It is not always comfortable to hear where we fall short, but I really appreciate the specific areas and examples they give so we can work to improve.
I hate to report this, but it is going to snow again this year (maybe as you are reading this week’s edition of the Mayor’s Minute!). On Wednesday, we had our annual meeting for the Laramie County Snow Removal Plan. At least 16 agencies were there to coordinate and make sure we are all plowing snow together. Our emergency manager, Jeanine West, does a great job of herding the different groups, and making sure we are prepared for anything. Our 30-year snow average is 69.9” per year. The National Weather Service told us we are in for an El Nino this year and the last one we had in 2015/16 gave us 92” of snow. ARG!!
The state has done a great job of keeping the Harvard University Growth Lab folks in contact with us regarding housing. They have traveled all over the state and they bring ideas from all over the world on things we can do to make housing less expensive and more plentiful. Charles and Seth from our planning office joined and we shared our progress on the list of ideas they gave us 60 days ago, and they shared new ideas. We introduced one in the city council that would give builders and architects more options for building materials on multifamily developments. Our staff did a study with the public to gauge their approvals of the different materials. We will share that at the next Public Services Committee meeting.
In 1971 the city entered into an outside user agreement to provide water to the area now known as the South Cheyenne Water and Sewer District. I was a kid when it happened, but today we are still dealing with the dated 52-year-old agreement. Today, the environment for water is very different. Water resources are hard to find and our BOPU is working hard to make sure water is used responsibly and new resources are available when we need them. Every new user in the city pays into a fund to help BOPU keep our water resources robust. But in the past 8 years, the water usage in the SCWSD has gone up by 115 million gallons per year while the city’s usage has remained steady, even with our growth. We have been trying for years to update the SCWSD agreement to include things like wise water usage and system development fees that the BOPU uses to find new water resources. I met with BOPU this week to work toward a solution. The city would like to see SCWSD embrace the water saving programs the city is supporting and help replace or find water resources to compensate for the growth in their water usage. More to come.
Stephen Pennock has worked for our sanitation department for 30 years now. I got to meet with him and thank him for his years of service to our city and its residents. He gets up and goes to work at 1 a.m. to do the front load pickups because it is safer to do so when we are all sleeping. He told me he started at $3.25 an hour breaking up the incineration units we used to burn our trash before modern pickup became the norm. Appreciate him and all our employees.
Our Downtown Bronze project saw 3 more installations on Thursday. I stopped by to watch the “Swat Team” be installed at the corner of 18th and Thomes. It is three burros huddled together so their tails can swat flies off each other. I love that the Swat Team is in the corner of the public safety building. Thank you to Vic and Linda Adoue for sponsoring the bronze and congratulations to Robin Laws for her lovely work in sculpting this piece.
CRE is bringing back the Goblin Walk. It used to be in Lions Park, but cold weather made it too hard to continue outdoors. This year they are starting it back up in the Civic Center. I did a preview Thursday afternoon and it was wonderful. There might be a few tickets left this weekend. 60,000 pieces of candy wait for kids over 8 years old. It is nice to see more events for kids starting in our city.
I stopped by the base on Thursday evening to thank host families for their participation in the “Adopt an Airman” program. The program matches first term Airmen with local host families to give them a home away from home. The AirForce brought the host families to the base to show them what their Airmen do every day to protect our country. I heard from the host families that they get just as much from the relationship as their bonus family members.
Thursday evening, we held an open house for the Reed Avenue Project. This project will turn the dirt road that has a railroad track running down the center into a destination entertainment district for our city. Walkways, bike paths, landscaping, lighting and fun restaurants, breweries, etc. will make it a great gathering place. To get the railroad to allow this development, two roads will be closed to traffic crossing the tracks. 18th Street and 21st Street will dead end at the tracks creating more space for the public and improving safety in the area. The master plan is in development right now, and I can’t wait to see it and share it with the community. The responses at the open house were all positive and encouraging.
I have my fingers crossed for two things this weekend. First, the weatherman is wrong and the weekend will be warmer than predicted. Second, the Pokes beat Boise State in Idaho for the first time.