Council seeks cheaper solution for multi-purpose court improvements

Nathan Oster

The Greybull Town Council continues to explore ways of improving the outdoor tennis/basketball court complex located between the South Big Horn Senior Center and the Greybull Elementary School campus.

Last month brought sticker shock as council members reacted to a $400,000 estimate from Nelson Engineering to incorporate four pickleball courts into the overall layout, remove the asphalt and replace it with new asphalt or concrete. Written into the $400,000 estimate was a sizable chunk, $115,000, for design and specs, permitting and legal and construction engineering.

Administrator/Finance Director Carrie Hunt said she’s been looking into grants, but each one is going to require some level of engineer involvement.  Council members raised the possibility last month of doing the work in-house.  Hunt said she got an estimate suggesting it would cost the town about $130,000 to put down a new concrete pad. But that figure isn’t all inclusive, as the town would also need to pay for additional surfacing expenses as well as fencing, since the current one would need to come down.

Rehabbing the current surface, which is badly cracked in some spots, isn’t an option.

“It needs to be shut and locked,” said Jason Lampman, the town’s public works director.

Water tap issue

One of the evening’s most talked-about agenda items dealt with water rates and charges — and in particular, when a new tap should be subject to billing.  Presently the town bills customers an “inactive” rate — about $6 per month less than an active rate — starting upon receipt of a new tap application. 

Justification for that lies in town statute, but some, including Hunt, Public Works Director Jason Lampman and Mayor Myles Foley, argued that inactive billing in these cases should begin when water becomes available.

The issue arose last month when the council voted for the relinquishment of a tap that never had water and the filing of a lien on the property.   A tap application had been submitted in that case, but a meter pit was never installed.

The council tabled the discussion.  The town has two tap applications in the hopper.  Neither property has a meter pit. Both have already gone into inactive billing.


Other news

In other Nov. 14 business:

• Councilman Dean Miars inquired about MI SWACO’s progress in repairing a ruptured water line.  The break was a topic of conversation at the March meeting.  At the time, the loss amounted to about 1.7 million gallons.   By October, it had climbed to 11 million.  Miars suggested it’s getting worse and unless it’s repaired, the loss could approach 30 million by spring.

Lampman said he doesn’t think it’s a case of MI putting it off.  “They’re just slow,” he said, citing the challenges of local employees needing to get authorization from out-of-state higher-ups before proceeding.

Miars said he’ll be keeping an eye on it. 

“If this town was in the Colorado River basin, we wouldn’t be wasting 30 million gallons of water,” he said. 

• With the agreement set to expire early next year, council members have been considering in recent months whether to increase the franchise fee for Wyoming Gas.  The company is paying 2% under the current agreement, which generates $15,004 annually for the town.

Administrator/Finance Director Carrie Hunt said a single percentage point increase would generate about $150 for the town. At 3%, the fee would be $15,155. At 4%, $15,305.  At 5%, $15,455.

Recognizing that Wyoming Gas would just pass the increase along to its customers, council members agreed to keep the fee at 2%.  The new agreement is expected to come up for first reading in January.

• Council members tabled a decision on a request from the City of Cody, which will be hosting the annual convention of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities next summer and is asking communities in the area to contribute money to the cause.

Greybull’s council contributed $1,000 the last time Cody hosted, back in 2016. Cody requested the same amount for 2023, but council members, led by Chris Dooley, expressed reluctance.

“Let’s chew on it until next time,” said Mayor Myles Foley.

• The council continues to struggle finding people to serve on its Planning and Zoning Committee.  Despite running ads on multiple platforms, just one person has applied. That person remains interested, but no one else has stepped forward. The town has already voted to decrease the size of the P&Z from five to three.

Council members agreed it’s time to be more proactive.

“We have to start calling people,” said Councilman Marvin Hunt.

• The council approved the first reading of Ordinances 870, 871 and 872.

• Police Chief Bill Brenner asked the council to consider improving the security of Town Hall. Chief among his concerns is the front door, where just a swinging but locked, waist-level partition protects town employees from customers.  Improvements to the courthouse in Basin brought bulletproof glass, which is also lacking in that area, Brenner said. 

“Everyone’s vulnerable to someone wanting to come in and cause harm,” he said.

Brenner’s request was simply to seek a bid or estimate for security enhancements.

Mayor Foley and councilmembers were receptive.  “We’ve had some people come in with anger issues,” said Foley. On occasion, they’ve had to be escorted outside.

Brenner concurred, saying, “Government makes people upset, especially in this day and age, and people are prone to anger and doing stupid things that they later regret.”

• The council set $500 as the minimum bid for a 15’ by 60’ strip of town-owned land in front of the Santiago Cisneros property at 463 Eighth Ave. S.  Cisneros is wanting to build a 30’ by 40’ steel shop next to his house and needs a lot line adjustment to proceed.  

Council members originally considered $360 — a figure that represents what .02 acres would be worth when one acre goes for around $18,000 — but ultimately set it at $500.  Cisneros has already paid about $5,300 for surveying.  He’d only have to pay the $500; anyone else who bids on and gets the bid would have to pay both the $500 to the town plus $5,300 to Cisneros.