Casper Infrastructure Project Approved

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Casper - (KCWY) An infrastructure project set to extend downtown Casper is approved by a vote of 3-2 today, just weeks after it was voted down.

Wyoming's five elected officials reheard arguments from supporters and opponents and in the end agreed to loan the money, but it wasn't entirely what city officials wanted.
Half of the money city officials hoped for was loaned for the project today, but it didn't come without controversy.

"I speak from many of your constituents, please do not reconsider this proposal," said a resident speaking on the project

After State Loan and Investment board members voted down a three million dollar loan and two million dollar grant January sixteenth, supporters and those opposing the Platte River Commons infrastructure project were back in Cheyenne arguing their case Thursday.

"They should get their own private financing and take on the project themselves," said Kathy Ide, a Casper resident who opposes the project.

SLIB board members first had to rescind their previous vote, which was met with criticism right away. Superintendent Cindy Hill concerned with the process of bringing back a request already voted down.

"It doesn't make sense to me, that we would take each one and measure it on its own merits, I would not vote to rescind this," said Superintendent Hill.

Casper city officials refocused their argument to emphasize state money would only go towards developing infrastructure, not a hotel and conference center.

"It seemed as though the majority of the people who voted against had a different view of how government should assist development," said Casper City Manager John Patterson.

State auditor Cynthia Cloud moved to approve a 2.5 million dollar loan, which would develop 18 of the 35 acre site, leading to project supporter Secretary of State Max Maxfield to vote no.

"We probably should have put the full amount into it that was requested," said Secretary Maxfield.

Cloud wants to see Casper city officials and county commissioners putting forth city and county funds to complete the rest of the project.

"My anticipation is that they will find a way to fund the entire project," said Secretary Maxfield.

"It will enable us to move forward, so I think all of the items we have talked about previously I think they are all back on the table," said Patterson.

One of those items; a new hotel and conference center, that Casper city officials say could bring ten million dollars in revenue to Casper each year.

State Superintendent Hill says she supports the Casper conference center, but questioned the location, the amount of money being spent on infrastructure, and even joked with Casper city officials, saying she heard Peyton Manning wanted a rehearing as well.
Patterson says this project will bring significant development to west Casper in the way of shopping, restaurants, and office buildings.