It has been one heck of a week for me! Judy and I were scheduled to take a vacation to Paris, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Cheyenne Hotel at Disney Paris. I found it very cool that our western heritage is being honored in Europe at Disneyland. Our second stop of the trip included a visit to Lourdes, France to meet the mayor of our sister city. Lourdes is the home of the first Pyrenean Championship Rodeo, a cowboy history we both share. Judy and I had the perfect ending to our trip set in Tunis, Tunisia. Our Army National Guard has a sister relationship with Tunisia. Judy and I have been blessed to have met so many folks from Tunisia during their visit to Wyoming; as a show of respect, we wanted to repay their kindness and visit their beautiful country. Tunis is located north of the African coast and sits south of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s breathtakingly beautiful in pictures and by their descriptions.
Unfortunately, Judy experienced a detached retina on Saturday and had to undergo emergency surgery to repair the damage. The good news is the doctor feels like the repairs to her eye were successful. The bad news is we had to cancel our personal vacation plans, and Judy must spend the next 10 days laying on her left side to allow the retina to heal. Our days are filled with eye drops and old movies on TV. We hope to reschedule many parts of our trip once she is well and able to travel again. I appreciate all the notes, calls, and prayers.
Due to Judy’s medical situation, I have been unable to attend many meetings. Therefore, I thought it would be best to use the remaining space of my Mayor’s Minute column to answer some of the questions you all have sent.
A resident by the name of Lori wrote to me questioning the use of electric bikes on the greenway and the lack of etiquette shown by many of the riders. Lori, you are so right when you said high speeds are not appropriate on the greenway path system. Speeding puts walkers, dogs, and fellow cyclists at risk. Our rule for the greenway says there’s a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. The greenway rules also prohibit motorized vehicles from using the greenway. The gas-powered minibike you saw is definitely against the law. Most electric-assisted bicycles are legal. I helped pass the state law regulating e-Bikes. Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-Bikes are categorized as non-motorized by state law. With that said, e-Bikes can be used on the Cheyenne Greenway system but must stay under control and operate at 15 mph. I would ask all users on the greenway to please be respectful of other users, pick up after your dogs, and ride within the speed limits.
Another fellow citizen by the name of Rick wrote to ask about the possibility of a grocery store on the west side of town again. Since the closing of the Safeway, it has been hard on the folks living in that part of town. Rick, I have also been asked this question for many years. The food desert is definitely something we have talked about with staff, developers, and anyone willing to listen. As we live in a free market society, businesses will need to find a profit motive to site a grocery store on the west side. I have been working with a couple of developers and have requested they consider a grocery store as part of their plans. As the west side develops, I am hopeful we will see the end of our food desert.
Nancy also asked about the greenway. In her email, she wanted to know why the greenway ends abruptly on Converse Avenue as you ride from the north. She asked, “Is there a plan to see the greenway extended to Mason Way? Nancy, our greenway is always growing to meet the needs of our community. For this particular section, Tom Cobb, our city engineer has been working on a plan to update Converse North from Dell Range Boulevard. This plan addresses improving drainage along the creek, widening the roadway, improving pedestrian access including the greenway, and repaving the road. Nancy, I am not sure of the timeline, but the good news is the future of the greenway will be improved along this roadway.
In a correspondence I received from Beverly, I was asked for an update on the Hitching Post and Hynds Building. Beverly, I am happy to report on both. The Hitching Post was our first Urban Renewal project, and we used the tax increment financing to remediate the asbestos and tear down the old buildings. This has all been accomplished. The developer, Swagger Construction has begun the grading and construction of a temporary road access to the Ice and Events Center. They have shared plans for a couple of new hotels and a coffee shop to be built on the southern end of the property. Plans for the northern section have yet to be completed. I hope we will see more public/private partnerships like this in the future. Likewise, the Hynds Building has a new owner and plans to include the adjacent “hole” property. Their plans are a mixture of apartments, office space, retail, and a possible restaurant. It will take a year to finish the architectural plans before construction begins. We have completed an Urban Renewal Plan for this property also. This is a very complicated project; it will take private and public entities to successfully see it through. Mary’s Bakeshop burned down in 2003 and it is high time we see this project completed.
Becky wrote asking about the homeless population living in our downtown; “What is the city doing to help?” Becky, I am learning that every city our size is having challenges with the homeless population. We are seeing vandalism, harassment, and health challenges with this population. The city and county partnered together to purchase a motel and gave it to COMEA to offset some of the challenges we were facing. They plan to use it to house some of the homeless population that does not qualify to stay at COMEA and to create a day center to give them a place to stay during the day. COMEA is currently trying to raise funds needed to bring the motel up to code and would welcome help to get it done. I have been surprised to learn that many of the folks in COMEA are older and disabled. Mental health issues are also a huge concern for Robin and her team. It’s helpful to remember that the homeless are human and deserving of our compassion.
Keith wrote to me about his concern for the weeds growing in the ditches and along our rights-of-way. Keith, I agree that our curb appeal does not live up to our expectations. As I drive anywhere in the summer months, I’m reminded of the same problem. Our creeks are filled with trees and overgrown bushes, leaving our community exposed to a flooding risk. However, I have two solutions for this: first, our team has spent time during the fall working to test equipment and processes to take care of the weeds growing in the cracks along our roadways. I’m encouraged by what they have come up with so far and am excited to see the plan for next year. I would like to again ask our residents to help by keeping their properties clean and weed-free. Second, our team has worked on a plan to maintain our creeks, drainages, and conveyances. We have spent the past year creating a stormwater drainage program that will address these areas. We have a rough draft of the ordinance written and I hope to see it introduced by the end of this year. In addition, we need a dedicated crew that will keep these areas clear and reduce the flooding risks. I so appreciate our staff for all their hard work and for getting us to this point. We hope our community will begin seeing the benefits of their vision and hard work.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday. Remember the many things we have to be thankful for. Judy and I have many, starting with this wonderful opportunity to serve our community. Happy Thanksgiving!
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.