City introduces ‘Kickstart Kemmerer’

COURTESY PHOTO

Comprehensive p lan creates vision for attractive community

Editor’s Note: This is the first of four articles in a series about the City of Kemmerer’s new comprehensive plan.

The Kemmerer City Council adopted the “Kickstart Kemmerer” comprehensive plan at the council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

“This isn’t a plan intended to solve all of Kemmerer’s problems,” city administrator Andrew Nelson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “But it will help us diagnose some of our critical issues and plan for the future.”

The vision statement of Kickstart Kemmerer states: “By 2038, Kemmerer will be an attractive community with a diversified economic base where people take pride in their homes, businesses and environment.”

Nelson said the comprehensive plan was the result of two years of work. The city hosted a workshop in April 2017 and distributed a survey to gather public input that could be useful in the plan.

The plan was created and recommended by an advisory committee, the Zoning Board, city administrator Andrew Nelson and deputy clerk/treasurer Natasia Diers. The advisory committee included former city councilman Bobby Reetz, Kathleen Corollo, Representative Tom Crank (House District 42), Dave Fagnant, Catherine Grandy, Mary Lively and Lindsey McKane. Nelson said the city department heads were also involved in the plan.

“This plan acknowledges that our population growth in the next 20 years will likely remain low,” Nelson said. “It proposes changes that won’t disrupt that small town feel we have in Kemmerer.”

The plan will strive to achieve the vision statement through five different categories: Community Appearance, Land Use and Housing, Economic Development, Recreation and Open Spaces, and Public Infrastructure.

“We really do appreciate all the work that went into this,” said Mayor Tony Tomassi. “This was hours and hours of work.”

Nelson said that although state statute requires the city to have a comprehensive plan, the city isn’t bound to do anything in the plan; it acts as a 20-year roadmap and should be updated every five years.

The plan identifies several needs for Kemmerer:

• The prioritization of infill development to avoid overextending municipal services to new areas

• The need to redevelop older residential sections of town into larger lots and new housing

• The lack of ready-to-build land for new residential development

• The realization that even under ideal economic conditions, population growth will likely be low

• The importance of retaining a rural, small town feel

• The value of preserving Kemmerer’s cultural heritage by investing in the Triangle

• The danger of a decrease in revenue as Kemmerer’s shares of sales tax shrinks due to rapid population growth in Star Valley

The comprehensive plan also provides strategies to implement change to address those issues.

Nelson said the plan should be used by the city council and the zoning board in making decisions regarding construction or redevelopment of public facilities.

“This plan focuses on working with existing services,” Nelson said. “Our advisory committee recognized that even with an influx of industry jobs over the decades, the population hasn’t changed much and likely won’t.”

The guiding principles of the plan stem from the vision statement. The guiding principles are:

• Attractive community: Kemmerer will invite new visitors, residents of all ages, and businesses to promote a high quality of life through a distinctive combination of small town living with modern amenities.

• Diversified Economic Base: Kemmerer will retain its global presence through energy production and expand its economic base through maximizing a regional workforce, leveraging its natural resources, and preserving its historic heritage.

• Community Pride: Kemmerer’s people, housing, events and businesses will reflect the highest standards of living in the region.

Read the Gazette next week for a story about the comprehensive plan’s focus on Community Appearance and Land Use and Housing.