Whats Next For Casper's Conference Center Site?

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Casper - (KCWY) Just yesterday State Loan and Investment board members voted to loan 2.5 million dollars to begin installing infrastructure in the Platte River Commons area. The loan is half of what city officials were asking for.

City and county officials including the Amoco reuse joint powers board will be meeting next week to see that all 35 acres have infrastructure developed.

"I think we should have gotten every penny that we asked for," said Casper Mayor Paul Meyer.

But city and county officials will now have to figure out how they will get the additional 2.5 million dollars needed to install infrastructure on the full 35 acre site.

"Certainly it's always simpler and less expensive when you develop a whole versus parceling it up, so I would like to move forward with infrastructure for the whole 35 acres," said Casper city manager, John Patterson.

It'll take 5 million dollars just to prepare a lot of the land on the former Amoco refinery site.

"It doesn't take much to get to five million dollars when you're talking about raising and leveling the site and putting in all the infrastructure," said Patterson.

City officials say the proposed anchor, a Crowne Plaza hotel and conference center, will bring Casper a lot of revenue.

"I don't want to provide too much public money for private enterprise, but in conference centers and these type of developments private doesn't usually have the ability to spur this large kind of construction project," said Mayor Meyer.

"The question for council people and other elected officials will need to try to watch the public purse closely," said Casper Councilman Keith Goodenough.

Natrona county commissioner Bill McDowell says commissioners will work hard to see the project gets completed, because they feel it'll benefit Natrona county residents.

"It's been proven in our nation's history that infusion of public funds will bring significant private dollars to the table," said Patterson.

Not everyone agrees, some Casper constituents who spoke out yesterday say elected officials are picking those who succeed and those that will fail.

"They have a perfectly legitimate concern in my mind. The idea that a private investment project cannot proceed without public involvement is an athema to the conservative view," said Goodenough.

Construction on the infrastructure is expected to start in the Spring. The Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center is expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.