CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority has set its sights on street and alleyway enhancements, and the agency hopes to fund the $3.6 million project with support from voters on the sixth penny sales tax ballot.

During a city sixth-penny work session Wednesday, DDA assistant director Haylee Chenchar laid out the benefits of the project, which would include a number of infrastructure improvements and beautification efforts for the alleyways between Lincolnway and 17th Street, and from Carey to Warren Avenue.

“This project, at its core, is an infrastructure improvement project,” Chenchar said.

While the DDA has plans of its own for those downtown alleyways, both Black Hills Energy and CenturyLink would carry out their own infrastructure enhancements during construction.

Black Hills Energy would move its electric facilities underground, from the posts in the alleys where such hardware currently hangs, therefore reducing the likelihood of weather-caused outages.

CenturyLink would take the opportunity to upgrade existing copper wiring, installed decades ago, with fiber-optic cables, which are being installed around the country for their internet speed and security capabilities.

“When businesses are looking to relocate, whether it’s locally here in Cheyenne’s downtown or outside organizations, the big thing that they look for is internet access – to be able to work and not reduce productivity,” Chenchar said. “This is the modernization of existing infrastructure that improves that utility access, and it brings us into the 21st century.”

The other facets of the proposal include eliminating eyesores in the alleyways, improving drainage downtown, adding in attractive features like planters, string lights and seating that matches that of the Depot Plaza. Brick pavers would be installed on the pavement in the alleys and would spill over onto existing sidewalks, creating a more walkable, well-connected center of the downtown.

The proposal also includes funding for enhancement of the lights on 17th Street, which Chenchar said have become well-loved and well-known by both residents and visitors.

“It’s a really consistent design that capitalizes on the investment the city has already made in downtown,” Chenchar said, adding that such improvements will create a more “unique pedestrian experience.”

To make room for clean alleyways free of grease and grime, the DDA’s sixth-penny proposal would also remove free-standing dumpsters and create a new centralized location for downtown’s trash.

“It really enhances that sense of safety that I know we’re all striving for for downtown Cheyenne. It eliminates unwanted odor and eyesores. … It decreases the grease traps and pollution. … Centralizing (the downtown garbage collection) eliminates a lot of those hazards,” Chenchar said.

Finally, removing the dumpsters would create space for local artists and groups like the Paint Slingers to create murals and public works of art that catch people’s eye and add to the feel of downtown.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t see somebody back in (the alley) totally admiring the artwork,” DDA Director Amber Ash said. “Continuing to foster that environment, I think, is very, very important in order to continue to expand upon our tourism and to embody a larger segment of the population.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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