From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 9 - February 28, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Strong public support for new park purchase

by Alecia Warren

The Pinedale Town Council learned the results of the public poll on expanding the Town Park, or Boyd Skinner Park, at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor’s Assistant Lauren McKeever said that of the 800 questionnaires submitted to the general public with residents’ water bills in January, 175 were filled out.

The results revealed that 84 percent supported using town funds to completely or partially purchase an additional 18 acres to extend the park, and 15 percent objected to using any town money.

“I was certainly glad to see it,” said Council Member David Hohl, who has supported purchasing the acreage just south of the Town Park for preservation and recreational needs. “I always felt that there was strong support for it, but the survey showed very strong support.”

The council has yet to take any action on the possible purchase, which could cost up to $2 million. The town couldn’t likely afford the entire price on its own, but the council has considered options like spending the $2 million on municipal projects and asking the state to match that money with federal grants to purchase the extension.

Developer James Bowles is meanwhile pursuing the construction of a 12-unit subdivision on the property, and many in the town reason that buying the land as park property will help preserve the disappearing land in Pinedale.

Council Member Nylla Kunard said she isn’t opposed to a subdivision on the property, so long as it includes the proper drainage. She considers incorporating the property into the town park one of the council’s lower priorities.

“We have millions of dollars worth of other stuff that needs to be done,” Kunard said. “A lot of people feel like (buying the land) is an opportunity, if we pass it up, we’ll never have it again. And they could be right. But it’s a lot of money.”

Hohl said he expected the council will make a decision on how to pursue the extension over the next few weeks.

In other Town Council news:

— The council agreed to submit its comments on the Revised Draft of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (RDSEIS) for the Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA).

Although the public commentary session on the draft officially ended on Feb. 11, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permitted the council a time extension because the council is a participating agency. “We’ve had a lot of public interest in these comments,” said McKeever, who wrote the final draft of the council’s comments. “Not only from the press, but from the public, people dropping by wanting to know about our comments.”

The town doesn’t object to the draft’s proposal of year-round drilling, according to the council’s comments, but wants the BLM to slow the drilling pace.

“I’d rather see activity go on for 30 years rather than 15, because I don’t like to see the boom and bust,” Kunard said after the meeting. “(The gas) is a non-renewable resource. Once (the operators) take it, they’re going to be gone, and we’ll be back to nothing.”

The council’s comments also request the BLM to better analyze growth impacts on the town. Although the council “applauds” the proposed wildlife mitigation fund that operators will provide, the comments read, it questions the lack of direct mitigation for “the substantial socioeconomic impacts” the town will sustain from the proposed “dramatic increase” in energy development. The council requests a separate mitigation fund be provided for the Town of Pinedale to address these impacts.

— Kate Grimes, local softball organizer, announced that she plans to pursue installing new scoreboards on the softball field located on town property and asked what permitting or zoning fees the council requires. The council advised Grimes to go forward with her plans, and they would deal with zoning issues as they came up.

The council also gave Grimes permission to apply for funding to install a memorial plaque on the field in honor of Dudley Key, the Pinedale resident who originally organized a softball league in Sublette County.

— The council approved an application written by Planning and Zoning Administrator Meghan Jacquet and Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie for a $150,000 Community Readiness Grant from the Wyoming Business Council (WBC).

The grant would fund the looping of three major water mains in the western area of town. The project would require two phases, and Jacquet and Ninnie hope the WBC will award the funds twice, totaling the grant money at $300,0000.

The water line project would loop the School District bus barn line, extend under the highway to loop the BLM building and the undeveloped north sky property, continue through the proposed BloomField subdivision and loop the Split Diamond Meadow subdivision.

If the town receives the grant, it will have to pay 10 percent, or $150,000, of each of the two project phases, potentially totaling $300,000.

BloomField developer Matt Harber has offered, however, to give the town three commercial parcels on the subdivision if the town obtains the grant. The town would lease the parcels, and use the lease money to provide for matching funds for future grant applications.

“It’s different, it’s creative, but also very progressive,” said Mayor Stephen Smith. “In the long term, it will benefit the town much greater than any match we have to come up with.”

— Ninnie said in his department head report that he plans to give his recommendations on contractors for the water and sewer rehabilitation project at the March 10 council meeting. Currently 43 bidders are vying for the project.

He will also make recommendations on what firms will conduct the town drainage study at the March 10 meeting. Twentyseven firms have made bids on the project, Ninnie said.

“I’m expecting very competitive price offers,” he said.

Ninnie also met earlier in February with Stantec Engineering, which will begin a comprehensive Traffic and Road Infrastructure study once the weather warms up. The study will provide ways to help utilize and manage the roads, Ninnie said.

Ninnie said he expects to sign a contract with Barry Bowser of Arrowhead Builders on the Town Hall addition when warm weather hits. Bowser has to obtain a performance bond in the meantime.

— The council approved transferring a retail liquor license from Larson/Faler Inc. to Ridley’s Family Markets.

— Ron Hanson with Public Works said the staff will move the No Parking signs around the Learning Center on Franklin Street to allow parents to park and pick up their children from classes.

The council also approved for Public Works to advertise for two new full-time positions. The next Town Council meeting will be held on March 10.

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