The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins

The military is our No. 1 employer in Cheyenne. Active duty on the base and our Guard units have an incredible impact on our culture and economy. Getting an opportunity to have coffee with the base commander, Colonel Johnny Galbert, is a great way to start the week. Our city and base were born on the same day in 1867 and to this day we work well together. We are working on ways we can support the base with joint jurisdiction, parking for CFD, and especially continuing the race discussions we started a couple of years ago.

I have written the past two weeks about the proposal to race horses on the Frontier Days grounds. I asked for a meeting with Accel Entertainment to discuss how to answer the questions posed during the neighborhood meeting and in the many emails we have received. Later in the week I met with a group from the Avenues neighborhood who wanted to share their opposition to the proposal and discuss the legal problems from their perspective. This is a very emotional issue and the only way I can see to deal with it is to get as much information as possible to understand the impacts and benefits to the city and neighborhood.

The city council set a goal last January to study the renewable solar industry to see how the city might be able to develop a community solar project. Tom Segrave has been the council champion for this project and we have spent the year meeting with different companies and learning that the industry is very complicated. This week we met with the Rocky Mountain institute (RMI). They are a nonprofit organization that works with municipalities to help with the technical assistance needed to put together a community solar project. The most amazing part is they do this service for free. RMI partners with Kansas State University and I am excited to get their scope of work to see what a partnership would look like. More to come.

Judy and I attended the holiday reception hosted by the Commander of the 20th Air Force and his bride. With the recent move by Sen. Tuberville to stop blocking the military promotions of general officers, it also became a congratulatory reception. General Lutton has earned his third star and will be headed to Global Strike Headquarters to serve as the Deputy Commander, and General Huser will get her second star and will soon be sworn in as the Commander of the 20th Air Force. Great folks finally getting the well-deserved promotions they have worked years to earn.

Our city council meeting lasted over four hours on Monday evening. Whew, it was a long one, but we saw a number of ordinances pass on second reading that I believe will help develop more affordability and choices in our housing. Efforts to allow some smaller building lots, parking adjustments to spur more studio/one-bedroom apartments, recognition we need to let the market determine the size of apartments in multifamily buildings, and façade material flexibility for affordable apartment buildings were all discussed and moved forward. Good arguments were made to keep our current regulations and that we need to do something different if we want to see a change. What I am most thankful for is the conversation about how we can build more housing and do it in an affordable way.

Our city team met with the Coldwell team working to get a ground lease from the Air Force. This lease called the EUL would see a housing project started on the land where we currently park our cars for Frontier Days. It would also see a large commercial development that I hope would see new business come to Cheyenne. We are working to see what grant and loan opportunities might be available to help support this project from our state Business Council and State Loan and Investment Board. I am excited by this project and hope we can find some avenues to help make it happen.

The city and county invest part of our 5th penny sales tax revenues to help our nonprofits and their missions here in Laramie County. We have a joint Human Services Advisory Council to help guide how the money is invested. We also have a great partnership with United Way. They are experts at analyzing applications and outcomes, and for years now have helped manage the process. We had a short meeting this week to get updates on our four collectives that have been funded and the 20 agencies that benefit from those dollars. Their progress makes me feel good about donating to the United Way and for their work with our city/county partnership.

The Cheyenne Board of Realtors held a Pizza and Politics evening to give us a chance to meet and get to know each other and the issues that affect the realty business. I learned that high interest rates have had a chilling effect on housing sales but the folks in the industry are very bullish on Cheyenne’s future. With all the new companies coming to our city and the new missile upgrade, we need to expand our housing numbers to make sure we can maximize the positive impact.

I had never heard the term “renewable natural gas” before Wednesday of this week. I learned our wastewater treatment plant creates a lot of methane gas and it could be captured and used by industry. The captured methane can help companies meet their carbon goals and apparently, they are willing to pay handsomely for this product. Makes sense to me that it would be better to capture and use the gas rather than let it escape into the atmosphere. Austin from Black Hills Energy shared the idea and I am excited to learn more about it.

Three years ago, our city council set a goal to find a way to maintain our storm water drainage and infrastructure. We have 135 miles of pipes, 4,119 inlets and catch basins, 1,659 manholes, 236 discharge points, and 168 acres of storm water detention. Historically, we have not had the resources to keep up with the needed maintenance. You can see that by driving along the creeks and seeing the trees growing in the channel. They should not be there and are a big concern of mine. We met this week to talk about creating a surface water mitigation program to fund and manage these conveyances and ensure they will operate as designed when called upon during storm events. I am hoping the city council will hold a work session in the first quarter of the new year to roll out an answer.

My week ended with a trip to Afflerbach Elementary School to read a Christmas book to the students. I read a book about Pete the Cat and the 12 Days of Christmas. After reading the book we had a question-and-answer session where the students asked some great questions about being mayor and about some of my favorite things. Their excitement for Christmas is getting me into the spirit of the season. Hope you all are also finding the spirit as we are 10 days away.