CHEYENNE – Greenway and Parks Planner Jeanie Vetter and the Greenway Foundation hope to see a $6 million proposal on the next sixth-penny sales tax ballot to fund expansion, capital improvements and address deferred maintenance on the city’s expansive Greenway system.

“With nearly 45 miles of paved trail, cracks, leaks, broken sections and damage are part of the natural lifespan of the Greenway,” Greenway Foundation President Jim Walter said. “Ensuring that the city has the funding and support to keep up with that maintenance log is essential to the continued viability of the system.”

Vetter and Walter shared the importance of continued funding for the Greenway during the first of a series of city work sessions on potential sixth-penny projects. Of the $6 million, Vetter said $3.5 million would go toward capital improvements and Greenway expansion, and $2.5 million would be used for operation and maintenance.

“The Greenway is a proven and beloved amenity for the citizens of Cheyenne. It no doubt supports economic development for the city and county, as well,” Vetter said. “In this 30th anniversary year, it’s important to make sure it continues to thrive and grow. It should serve as many citizens as possible, and we should see that it is provided the proactive maintenance it deserves.”

The projects prioritized by the Greenway Advisory Committee for the sixth-penny funding are: the downtown connector, from the Pumphouse Wetlands area to 15th Street to the Depot Plaza; the Avenues airport connector, which will provide a safer connection for pedestrians and bikes than Pershing Boulevard, between Evans Avenue and Airport Parkway; a connector to the new East Park from the existing Greenway near Sun Valley, which will require land purchases and design efforts; and some smaller projects like a connector near Walterschied Boulevard and Fox Farm Road.

The Greenway has leaned on sixth-penny sales tax funds since its first voter approval in 1991, when the non-motorized path system started gaining traction and growing into what it is today. Close to $4 million was approved by voters again in 2017, and Vetter stressed the importance of maintaining funding for the Greenway.

The Greenway does not receive any money from the city’s general fund, so Vetter said a lack of sixth-penny funding would end Greenway expansion and limit the Parks Department’s ability to maintain the current paths.

“If the funding for the Greenway is not renewed, it will limit Parks’ ability to support it with equipment such as trucks, plows, trailers, mowers, attachment string trimmers, maintenance supplies, stain, paint, benches, trash receptacles – the list goes on and on,” Vetter said.

The council still has a number of department requests to consider for the sixth-penny ballot, though Vetter noted that the public has supported previous sixth-penny measures for the Greenway in 2003, 2008 and 2017, with approval rates of more than 60%.

Council President Jeff White said, “I think many of us on council recognize the importance of the Greenway, not just for our citizens and those we represent, but I think it’s also a very important recruiting tool when organizations like Cheyenne LEADS go out and approach businesses. I think the Greenway is really one of the things that makes our community very attractive.”

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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