CHEYENNE – At a brief City Council meeting Monday night, the council approved a sale of land to Laramie County School District 1 for the future expansion of Cole Elementary.
The building on the site, which was sold for $569,780, used to house the city’s Recreation Department until about two years ago, when it experienced water damage from a storm. Community Recreation and Events Director Teresa Moore said the Neighborhood Facility, which still houses the city’s gymnastics program, wasn’t worth spending the money on.
“We didn’t want to invest in a facility that doesn’t fit our needs,” Moore said.
At 610 W. Seventh St., the location was prime for LCSD1 because of its proximity to Cole Elementary. As Laramie County schools have grown substantially in recent years, having reached 14,000 students for the first time in 2019-20, the need for more space has been a topic of conversation.
Though the district doesn’t have the funds to tear down the old building yet, that is now a possibility for the future.
In the meantime, the gymnastics program still needs somewhere to practice, and Moore said there have been preliminary discussions with the district about leasing the gymnastics area until the city finds a permanent solution.
One option that has been discussed by city officials is the possibility of building a new gymnasium facility with the funding from this land sale. The new facility is proposed to be built on city property next to the Ice and Events Center off West Lincolnway, and would meet the city’s need for additional gymnasium space.
Along with revenue from a separate property sale, the city would have around $862,000 to work with for the project.
Right now, the revenue from land sales flows directly into the city’s general fund. But City Treasurer Robin Lockman said she hopes to start a revolving fund for land sales, which would mean any money the city earned from these sales would be used for property purchases and development.
The council was supposed to vote on changing the city’s parking ordinance, but due to the extensiveness of the measure, council members decided to kill the ordinance and break up it up into three separate pieces.
Two of those pieces were introduced at the Monday meeting and will make their way through the council proceedings.
“There were a lot of moving parts,” Councilman Scott Roybal said.
Perhaps the biggest change that would come from the ordinances is shifting parking tickets from a criminal violation to a civil violation.
Instead of disputing tickets in municipal court, residents would deal with a parking administration manager. That person would take over responsibilities that are currently handled by the city clerk’s office and the municipal court.
With civil offenses, any unpaid bills can also be sent to collections, which currently is not the case in Cheyenne. While most parking tickets will become civil offenses, the criminal charge will remain for those who park in wheelchair accessible parking spots without a permit.
The first ordinance change presented to council Monday would allow more freedom for food trucks, downtown residents and construction workers wanting to park downtown.
If approved, food trucks and construction workers will be able to apply for permits that allow them to exceed the two-hour time limits in the downtown area. The permits are proposed to cost $60 a month. As proposed, downtown residents will be able to apply for similar parking permits, but at no cost.
The second ordinance focuses on immobilization of vehicles and hearings for contested tickets.
Any vehicle with three unpaid parking tickets would be added to the scofflaw list. The registered owner of the vehicle would be mailed a scofflaw notice, and they would then have 15 days to respond after mailing. After that period, if the tickets are unpaid, the vehicle would become subject to immobilization.
If that vehicle remains immobilized for five days, the police chief can order the vehicle to be towed at the owner’s expense.
The ordinance would also impose a late fee of $30 if the ticket isn’t paid within 15 days.
Because the offense would switch to civil instead of criminal, the ordinance also outlines the process for those who wish to appeal a ticket. Those who feel like their ticket was wrongful would be able to ask the Cheyenne Police Department parking administration manager for a hearing within 15 days of the citation.
If you wish to comment on the ordinances, they will be heard by the Public Services Committee at noon Wednesday, Feb. 19, in room 104 of the Municipal Building, 2101 O’Neil Ave.
In other business
• The council approved a memorandum of understanding with the Laramie County Conservation District that will allow the rehabilitation of Crow Creek to start. Ultimately, the hope is the creek will become healthy enough to support wildlife like trout once again.
• The council also approved $100,000 per year for utilizing the private sector for emergency snow removal. The city has used this practice in the past for particularly bad storms, and the bid outlines the costs for specific types of work.