Mayor’s Minute from Mayor Patrick Collins – March 3
I’m very excited that a hotel group is looking to build a large Hilton Garden Inn in our downtown area. To have people fill the vacancy of 110 rooms each night will help our city grow our businesses. I’ve spent some time with our Board of Public Utilities (BOPU) to make sure the water and sewer lines have the capacity to serve the development. Great news, BOPU can easily service the area. I hope that we can get this hotel up and running soon.
Police Chief Francisco stopped by to catch me up on what’s happenings within his department. The big topic of discussion was the efforts the department is making to help with the recruitment of new officers. Things like rewarding education, longevity, and providing tuition reimbursement would help the department be more competitive in the marketplace. Except for being a Chiefs fan, we really have a great guy leading our police department. Can you tell I’m tired of the Chiefs beating up my Broncos? Their winning streak against us has been a long seven years. Sigh!
Our municipal court is in dire need of prosecutors and defense attorneys. It’s hard to say why the need is so great, but the demand for their services is increasing and becoming more expensive. The law guarantees the accused a fair trial and proper representation if they can’t afford it. Our municipal judges came by to share an idea for helping to reduce the cost to the court and improving our efficiency. I really appreciate their creative ideas and look forward to working with them on the implementation.
One-hundred years ago, folks traveled the world to find tree varieties that would thrive in the harsh climate found in Cheyenne. They planted the trees in the High Plains Arboretum, located just west of FE Warren Air Force Base, to test their survivability. Today, many of the trees are still growing there, giving testament to timeless Wyoming history. For the past few years, a group of people has taken on the responsibility of restoring the area and preserving it for future generations. Jessica Friis from our Botanic Gardens and Jacob Mares from State Forestry came by with a plan to apply for a grant that would start that preservation process. I’m proud of the plans they have proposed. On behalf of the city, I pledged that we would help make their vision come true. Whenever you have a moment, go out there and take a walk. It is such a beautiful place.
We have been very busy at the capitol this legislative session. I have been blessed to meet many legislators from around the state. This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to have lunch with the Speaker of the House, Albert Sommers. I wanted to meet him and share a few of our city’s concerns. I truly enjoyed our time, and I found the ranch life he described to me to be very fascinating. A special thanks to Sara Burlingame for setting this meeting up. I enjoyed the “60 Minutes” story you shared with me, which was filmed on the Green River Drift— a cattle drive the Sommers family has been doing for the past 125 years. Did you know this is the longest continuous cattle drive in America? Sommers is an interesting guy, and I appreciate his service to our state.
The State Land and Investment Board (SLIB) met this week to discuss the distribution of $50 million in grants to local government entities. Cheyenne had an ask for a stormwater drainage project that would safely move surface water from the Dell Range and Whitney Ranch areas south of the creek. This project would prevent water from flowing through the neighborhood south of the developments and prevent flooding to county developments. It is a great project, and the SLIB agreed and awarded our project $1 million to help make it happen. Tom Cobb, our city engineer, worked hard to bring this project to life, and Renee Smith, our grant writer, made sure his vision was clear to the evaluators. We have learned lessons from past developments, and this proves we took those lessons to heart.
My week was dominated by medical visits and follow-ups. A few months ago, I shared how my wife experienced her retina tearing right before we were due to take off for a 10-day European vacation. Well, she had cataract surgery on Monday to finally finish off this eye adventure. She has not had any vision in her right eye for more than three months, but when they took the patch off on Tuesday, she could see again. We appreciate Dr. Miller for helping us through this ordeal. Maybe now we can find time to reschedule our trip.
Our meeting of the governing body saw a full house, Monday. Most of the folks were there to discuss a zone change that would allow the construction of a 200-unit apartment building at the corner of Ridge and Thomas Road. Most of the testimony was opposed to this change in the neighborhood. In the end, the zone change that would have allowed the developers to use by right failed. A reconsideration to zone it as a lower-density property was tabled for two weeks. I appreciate it when residents get involved in our process, even if it makes our meetings last a few hours longer than normal.
Our partnership with LEADS was on full display as they came by to help us with a development agreement for a new data center looking to locate in Cheyenne. Development agreements are the organization’s area of expertise, and I appreciate them taking the time to share their knowledge and advice. I’m equally proud of our city teams for all the work they put in to make this deal possible—BOPU, city planning, engineering, and legal have all been working overtime to bring this deal to a positive conclusion.
We have a very dynamic gymnastics program. One of my goals this year is to build a new facility for the gymnasts. Our Community Events and Recreation director, Jason Sanchez gave me an update on our progress. One thing I dislike as both an elected official and a member of this community is the time it takes to get projects done around here. I know that taking things slow ensures that we are able to make sound decisions, but the limited time we have in office makes it hard to accept that certain things won’t get completed in one term. Jason has done a great job keeping me updated on the progress, and I look forward to the day I can cut the ribbon and watch the kids’ routines.
Tuesday was a milestone day of joy for Tyrrell Chevrolet. The local team here celebrated the company’s 85th anniversary. To stay in business that long you must be doing something right. Brian, Peaches, and Dallas Tyrrell were there, and it was great to congratulate them on their families’ longevity. I hope they get to celebrate another 85 years.
Affordable housing is the white whale for communities in our state. I have spent so much time trying to understand the secret sauce of how it works. The Wyoming Housing Network is a non-profit that works across the state, successfully building affordable housing projects. Melissa Noch and Paula Travers spent more than an hour explaining the numbers that make low-income tax credit housing projects happen. Now that I understand the numbers, I hope we can start to figure out how to pull together the partners and financing to help the needed workforce and affordable housing across the state.
My last two meetings of the week were amazing. First, I had a meeting with a person who’s interested in running our new Downtown Development Authority Board. He comes with an amazing resume and experience. It makes me happy that folks see Cheyenne as a place filled with opportunities. Second, I was invited to be a guest reader at Arp Elementary School’s “Read Across America” event. I appreciate Christine, the school’s librarian, for asking me to share a part of my day. The 3rd-grade class I visited was amazing and full of energy. Thursday was also Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and what a blast it was to celebrate him at Arp.
If you have a question or comment for me, please, send an email to email@example.com. I’ll continue to answer your questions or concerns in the following Mayor’s Minute column.