by nathan oster
It may still lack a swimming pool, but by the end of 2014, Greybull could very well have both a splash pad where young people could beat the heat in the summer months as well as a resurfaced tennis court facility.
The Greybull Town Council on Oct. 21 agreed to enter into a work contract agreement with Pavement Maintenance, Inc., which for $24,783, will clean and level the cracks, do hot pours and then follow that up with a layer of clear coat and striping for tennis and basketball courts.
The work will commence in the spring and come with a five-year guarantee.
Councilman Myles Foley, who outlined the particulars of the contract, said the playing surface would have a life expectancy of seven to 10 years. After the first five years, he said, a clear coat would need to be applied every couple years, at an anticipated cost of approximately $1,500 per application.
“I think this is the way to go,” Foley said, adding, “This will let us see whether it gets used. If it does, we can put some more money into it (after it reaches its life expectancy).”
Whereas right now there are only tennis courts within that fenced area, the new surface will provide a court for tennis, with standards that can be raised to accommodate sports like badminton and volleyball, as well as a court alongside it for basketball, with hoops on both ends.
In its budget for the current fiscal year, the town had earmarked $70,000 for the tennis court project, so there will be some money left over in that line item for the proposed splash pad, which appears to have the backing of the council.
Having come up empty in talks with the school district to put the pad between the tennis courts and the elementary school’s K-2 playground, Mayor Bob Graham and Administrator Paul Thur are now in the process of evaluating other locations.
The vacant lot adjacent to the Herb Asp Community Center was one possibility mentioned, while another was the city park, though it would likely require a pretty large chunk of the existing green space.
Funding was a major topic of the Oct. 21 discussion. Graham explained that grant funds through Land and Water Conservation Funds wouldn’t be available until October of 2014 — too late to do any good before next summer.
Graham asked for and received permission from the council to pursue other grant funding through the Community Facilities Program, which would require a 15-percent local match. To get that grant funding, the town would have to apply to the Wyoming Business Council by Nov. 15 and to the Office of State Lands by March of 2014.
Thur was directed to contact Leah Bruscino of the WBC for additional details on the grant.
The Sykes Foundation is another potential funding source for the splash pad, and in the end, the council agreed to apply for this funding, which could be used to assist with the conceptual design and engineering of the splash pad, along with the unused money from the tennis court project.
Graham said if things fall into place, a splash pad could be in place and ready for use as early as June 1of next year. The splash pad, as he envisions it, would be nothing like a pool, but rather an outdoor area built on a concrete slab that could feature fountains, wading ponds and other water features.
“Ten Sleep has one and you’d be amazed how many kids use it,” he said.
A wading pond would also be considerably less expensive than an indoor pool, according to Graham and Thur.
As for the location, Councilman Clay Collingwood cast a vote for putting the wading pool in an area large enough to one day accommodate a swimming pool. “I’d like to see them in the same place,” he said.
In other business discussed Oct. 21:
• In his monthly report, Thur noted that the town had spent just under $4,300 on the community assessment thus far, with “a few costs still hanging out there.” The town also took in $700 of in-kind donations.
Financially speaking, at the quarter pole of the fiscal year, “everything is looking good,” Thur said. “Several categories are ahead of the year-to-date pace.”
In terms of technology, Thur said the town will soon be in a position to take credit card payments for things such as utility bills, contractor license and court fines. Collingwood asked if the town would also have the ability to put customers on auto-pay, where their credit or debit accounts are automatically charged every month. Thur said he’d look into it.
• Town Foreman Dalen Davis was asked about plans to grade the alleys before winter hits. He said he’s “hoping to get there,” noting that his department has been running pretty lean in recent weeks due to people being sick or on vacation.
The fact that TCT is planning to do a lot of work in the alleys in 2014 was also mentioned as a reason, although Collingwood said that shouldn’t be an issue. “TCT will be obligated to put the alleys back in the condition they found them in,” he said.
Davis said the grader the town uses in the alleys doesn’t work very well on extremely hard surfaces. Collingwood agreed, calling it “a glorified toy” and saying “We need to work on a different solution.”
• Police Chief Bill Brenner said the radar sign that had been at the east entrance to town is currently off the streets. The GPD purchased a trailer for the sign, but there have been complications getting the radar equipment installed on that trailer.
• In the economic development report, Mayor Graham stated that a public comment period is now open on a statewide rail plan and that Carl Meyer, who sits on the economic development committee, is working on a public transportation concept that would connect passenger rail transportation through Wyoming. Graham said it could be a boon for Greybull if a depot were to be built here, something that would allow passengers on those trains to patronize businesses here.
Collingwood called it “a great idea,” but said “it’s come up before.” Graham didn’t deny that, but said that with the tracks on the east side of the Big Horns so congested due to industry, the tracks on the west side “could be more of an express route” for passenger trains.
Responding to a question about the US Forest Service and its search for a new location, Graham said the process of selecting a site has been delayed by the government shutdown. He said he hopes to have an answer from them by December on whether they’ll be relocating to Greybull.
• Collingwood, who represents the town on the Big Horn Regional Joint Powers Board, said the board was in the process of seeking additional grant money to cover unforeseen project costs.
He also raised a concern about an e-mail that had Mayor Graham had sent to Big Horn Regional, informing them that he (Collingwood) didn’t have the authority to vote on behalf of the town on regional water matters. Collingwood said the board’s charter gives him that right, and that the board’s lawyer concurred, and for that reason, he said he felt “undermined” by the mayor’s email.
Graham, who was the town’s representative to the joint powers board prior to Collingwood, said he never voted to raise rates without first running it by the full council. “Even though I was representing the town, I felt it had to come from this board,” Graham said. “I didn’t feel like I could do that on my own.”
Collingwood said he still plans to run everything by the council. If he had to run it by the council every time, he would have to abstain when votes were taken, which would essentially leave the decision in the hands of the other six joint powers members. “That would negate our vote, which I don’t feel would be very productive.”
Councilman Ross Jorgensen said on matters concerning regional water, “what I would have to go on is your recommendation, anyway.” For that reason, he said, “I have no problem with it.”
• In the water hearing part of the meeting, Councilor Bob McGuire raised the possibility of imposing a penalty clause for reoccurring accounts. The mayor asked Utility Clerk Beverley Jacobs, Thur and Collingwood to come up with a solution.
• The town is in the process of adding a public comment period to its monthly agenda, and with that in the works, Thur presented an outline of the rules that would be set for those comment periods.
An organizational chart was also presented for discussion purposes. Foley raised the idea of developing a parks and recreation department that would exist on its own, rather than under the umbrella of the public works department.
Foley said the change would ease Davis’ workload, both now and in the future, especially if the town ultimately gets a new swimming pool. But the council took no action on Foley’s proposal to create a separate department.
Councilor Ross Jorgensen said most Wyoming cities, including ones far larger than Greybull, operate their parks and recreation departments under public works.
• The council approved a bill of sale for a brick chlorinator building that is no longer used by the town and is located on private land.
• A flood plain ordinance was presented and approved on first reading.
• Graham pointed out that the alley and street under the current high school were never vacated — and presented for approval resolutions to rectify the problem, which were endorsed by the council.
• The council pushed its November meeting date back a day due to Veterans Day, which falls on the third Monday. The meeting will now be held Tuesday, Nov. 12.