First session well attended

by nathan oster

Approximately 35 local resident joined those who had submitted their input online by participating in the first three listening sessions of Greybull’s community assessment on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

A team of volunteers led by Kim Porter, a program manager for the Wyoming Rural Development Council, heard from people of varying backgrounds during the three sessions, which were held at Town Hall and The Speakeasy.

The first session — the one planned for people in the retail, business, industrial, utilities and insurance sector — drew the biggest turnout of the day.  The second session, set aside for the professional/finance/banking sector, drew only three people, but 10 crowded into the Speakeasy for a general listening session to cap off the day.

Several common themes emerged from the sessions.

When it comes to challenges facing the community, people at both sessions agreed that the community lacks things for young people to do, the downtown area is suffering from the loss of businesses and empty storefronts and that tourists aren’t stopping.

A sampling of the comments:

• “There’s nothing for kids to do…things like a swimming pool, bowling alleys, theaters.  We have had them all at one time or another.  We’ve lost them all.”

• “The downtown area is suffering. It’s sad to see so many empty buildings.”

• “The lack of a community pool is a terrible thing.”

• “The town lacks good, high quality rental units.”

• “We need to work together more.”

• “With businesses closing at a rapid rate, our tax base is disappearing.”

• “We have a nation of unfit kids … healthy activities are being lost.”

• “We lack attractions to retain and attract young people.”

• “More tourist activities are needed during the summer months.”

• “Volunteer involvement is on the decline.”

• “There is too much negativity in the community.  We need to get over that; we need to quit being so self serving.”

• When people come to Greybull, they need a reason to stay here.  Things close up so early…what do you do in this town if you’re a tourist and it’s after 5 o clock?”

• “We need to clean up our river.”

• “We don’t have enough community activities;  it would be great to get something going again on the Fourth of July.”

While no one had any trouble naming the challenges facing the community, the list of its assets was equally long.  Residents at both sessions said they enjoy living in Greybull, citing its small-town atmosphere, close proximity to the mountains and reputation as a good place to raise a family.

Some of the other assets that were mentioned on Tuesday were the railroad, the airport, the industrial park, the stress-free, laid-back lifestyle, the friendly and creative people who live here and a number of forward-thinking business people.

Porter also asked people who attended the listening session to think about projects they’d like to see completed in the next two, five, 10 and 20 years. She encouraged them to dwell on what the projects would cost, but rather to imagine what they would like to see if they left town and returned in two, five, 10 and 20 years.

Other members of the resource team that is in town conducting the assessment are April Thompson of Rock Springs, Sue Taylor, the executive director of Lovell, Inc., Kristin Phipps with the Office of Tourism, Andrea Massey of Trident Energy Services and Dan Clark, a private consultant with experience in Air Force and with the Department of Environmental Quality.

The assessment concludes today with three sessions this morning in the GHS auditorium.  The education sector goes at 8 a.m., the recreation/jobs session is at 9 a.m. and the tourism/chamber/economic development sector goes at 10:40 a.m.

The team will present a report on what it heard during a town hall style meeting at 7 p.m. at the Herb Asp Community Center.