Saratoga Mayor Creed James has announced the town received an additional $4,095 in donations for Pickett Park.
The town will match the new donations, which will be added to the $33,000 that is already in the Pickett Park Wyostar account.
Wyostar is a government investment pool managed by the Wyoming State Treasurer’s Office for municipalities saving for long-term projects.
The town of Saratoga had already received a Wyoming Community Gas Distribution check for $5,255.57. The receipt of the check was discussed during an Aug. 3 council meeting.
It was decided at the Aug. 17 council meeting that the WCG refund check would be divided equally between the Platte Valley Little League Baseball fund and the Pickett Park fund adding $2,627.78 to each.
Wyoming Community Gas is a natural gas supplier and nonprofit company managed by a consortium of Wyoming communities. They reinvest part of their revenue back into the member communities each year.
James reminded everyone that the Council had budgeted $35,000 this fiscal year to match any donations received for Pickett Park. He also noted that some members of the council were making personal donations to the effort and that he would “donate my mayor’s salary for the rest of the year to that fund.”
Councilman Nelson offered to build a fundraising thermometer to be placed in front of Town Hall to show how the Pickett Park fundraiser is progressing. With $33,000 in the bank and the $35,000 budgeted by the town, another $35,000 will put the effort at $100,000, Nelson said.
“The council has acknowledged that it (the park) is something that is long overdue,” James said. “We are making small steps. We have gotten some dirt work done over there, and we are pushing to try and get the curb and gutter done this year.”
A fence for the area or the water sprinkler system for the planned grass that had been talked about earlier in the year were not discussed. The planned park area is blocked by temporary barriers, light rope and fluorescent tape to prevent parking. The property has no signage to indicate what is being planned for it.
Army Staff Sergeant Tyler Pickett was killed while serving in Iraq in June 2008 and the town of Saratoga bought the land for a memorial park in 2010.
Concrete contractors were briefly discussed. Councilman Rod Hutchins said he had reached out to several for prices and, “I had zero returned calls.” James said he had a contractor interested in looking at the plans for the park.
The council members again discussed the problems with the east side of the property and the difficulty of finalizing the park’s design.
The land abuts Pick Pike Road on the north side and has town-owned property adjoining it on the west and south sides. However, the east is bordered by the old Saratoga and Encampment Railroad right of way, which is owned by Dr. Michael Janssen, the owner of the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort across the road from the proposed park.
Over the last 10 years or so the town has not had success in acquiring this narrow strip of land to put into the planned Pickett Park. Mayor James said he had reached out to Janssen without success and would try again.
Councilman Hutchins expressed concerns about the public’s continued ability to access the veterans Island parking lot from the east side, by the unauthorized crossing of this private strip of land that runs along Richard’s Road from Pick Pike Road to the Cadwell Slough.
Councilman Jon Nelson went on record about the problem.
“I would encourage the owner of that strip of land to realize the value that these improvements could add to their property and their business and (work with) the town to improve this piece,” he said.
Councilman Ben Spaulding, an Iraq veteran himself, expressed a need to continue to show progress with the park project. He suggested a “rock picking party where we could get out there and pick up rocks,” on this site. “This is not something that has fallen off the bandwagon. We are still pursuing it.”
Mayor James agreed, saying that, “This is something we need to stay after and get accomplished.”