The Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – January 14th
Published on January 14, 2022
CHEYENNE – Started this week at coffee with Senators Driskill and Nethercott. Senator Driskill comes from the Devils Tower area of our beautiful state, and Senator Nethercott is Laramie County’s own. We were working on support for the parking plan for Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD). Making sure the visitor experience is the best is important to keeping CFD relevant in the rodeo marketplace and ensuring that tourist dollars are happily spent here in our city. I appreciate all the support we are receiving to make it happen.
We held our holiday luncheon at the Kiwanis Community House last Friday. Culver’s catered and the roast beef was amazing. I have a weakness for chocolate, and the custard did not disappoint. It was great to have our team together. With Covid and our boiler closing the municipal building, we have not had much time to be together. I appreciate Holly and our team that made it all happen.
I do not know much about cryptocurrency and blockchain. Domenic Bravo from Visit Cheyenne hosted a meeting with Matt Kaufman who is a local attorney and an expert on the subject. I learned so much. One of the cool things I learned was using tokenization to finance development projects. Being Mayor has given me so many opportunities to meet new people and expand my education.
I recently shared with you about meeting with our local hockey team to work out some issues. I met with our Community Recreation and Events (CRE) team to understand how staff looks at the situation. Councilman Bryan Cook and I will be meeting with the hockey team parents soon to work things out.
The Hynds Building has been empty since 1984. It is high on the priority list for our city council and the public. We met with a team from Neenan Archistruction to tour the building. They specialize in rehabbing old buildings into affordable housing and office spaces. It was fun to listen to their excitement at the beauty of the building and the natural light in every room. I know this is a complicated project. We have been adding tools in our development box to make the probability of success higher.
A team of city employees met with the crew from the Comea Shelter to discuss what it would take to site a low barrier shelter. This type of shelter takes homeless folks that are not quite ready to embrace sobriety. It is an essential service that Comea wants to provide. Getting people off the street and into a safe environment may help the Comea staff to start them on the path to stability and a new lifestyle. The City Council and County Commissioners are all in to help Comea in this endeavor.
Councilman Pete Laybourn is working on so many things for our city. We had lunch to catch up on a bunch of items. Homeless living under the bridge, CFD parking, Dry Creek greenway underpass at Highway 30, the Civic Center, Reed Avenue Corridor, Pioneer Hotel, Clean and Safe program, snow removal, Leadership Cheyenne, storm water concerns, and Thomas Heights flooding. It took two hours to work through the list, but the green chili at the Albany helped us through it.
Cheyenne Hills Church is a mainstay on the east side of town. Pastor Galen stopped by to share a project he has been dreaming about. He brought renderings of a large building that will house an indoor turf field and riding arena. A turf field is something we really need in our community and I hope someone figures out how to make it happen. In talking with other cities across Wyoming, sports tourism fills hotel rooms and restaurants. The financial impact is amazing, and I want some for Cheyenne.
The voters approved the Reed Avenue Corridor project a few years ago. Since that time, we have been working on the masterplan and working with the railroad for permission to build out the project next to their tracks. We met with Justin Marks who is a railroad expert to get advice on how to expedite the railroad process. We now have a roadmap to work with. Reed Avenue will someday be lined with restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and fun retailers. It will be the catalyst for development of the west edge.
Once a year we are required to negotiate a new contract with the fire union. I met with our fire chief to understand the contract and share the governing body’s concerns. Traditionally, I get the letter from the union on Valentine’s Day triggering the start of negotiations. The firefighters are a great group, and we will make this work.
The Zonta Club of Cheyenne hosted a lunch event titled “In Her Shoes”. It was an opportunity to role play an abused woman, to make choices, and to see where her story goes. In Wyoming, 36 percent of women and men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. It was interesting to do the exercise and listen to the group discussion. I appreciate Zonta for taking on the issue and hope our community will support those being abused.
The Joint Appropriations committee met to discuss the funding of local governments. For Cheyenne, it means over $4,000,000 or 7.2 percent of our budget. I was happy the committee sponsored a bill to fully fund our budget request for the next two years. 75 percent of our general fund budget pays for employee’s salaries and benefits. 21 percent of our budget covers the mandatory spending parts of the budget. Things that you don’t have a choice but to pay like the telephone bill, insurance, gasoline, etc.! We only have 4 percent that is truly discretionary. I appreciate the support our legislature gives Cheyenne.
My Chief of Staff will facilitate a goal setting session for the governing body this weekend. It has been amazing watching the inputs come in from each of our council members. I appreciate the council’s willingness to spend part of their weekend with me putting our priorities on paper. I am looking forward to the collaboration and discussion. Jennifer, Michael, and Holly work so hard to make things easy for the governing body. We are blessed to have fantastic city employees.