KEMMERER — City council members and Kemmerer Planning and Zoning board members held a public workshop at the South Lincoln Training and Event Center Wednesday, April 26, to begin gathering information and ideas from city residents about Kemmerer’s future development. The turnout was less than expected, but it was a successful first step.
“The format of the meeting was designed as a listening session,” Kemmerer City Administrator Andrew Nelson said. “That means there was no formal presentation, only an opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas. It was very beneficial as the foundation of the comprehensive plan, but I’d love to get more input from the community in general.”
The event’s five different stations included Public Infrastructure, Community Appearance, Economic Development, Open Spaces and Recreation and Land Use and Housing.
Each of these stations had questions to prompt discussion, and participants were asked to write big picture ideas that they hoped would define Kemmerer 20 years from now.
Public Infrastructure ideas included moving City Hall to downtown Kemmerer, designated biking trails, a new public works barn to replace the old lumberyard and a consistent citywide sidewalk code.
Community Appearance ideas included centralized composting drop-off locations for clippings and branches. Residents also proposed the idea that trashcans shouldn’t stay permanently on the street, and downtown should have a theme of community pride.
The Economic Development station was a busy one with an abundant list of ideas, including a train-to-truck offloading center that utilizes existing highways to other western states.
Another idea was a “trails to Yellowstone” theme to attract tourists by drawing on Kemmerer’s history and rich fossil sites.
One resident wrote, “I think a trucking company or warehouse distribution center would fit well.”
Residents’ ideas for Kemmerer’s economic development also included the addition of a truck stop, an ATV and UTV trail system, airport improvements, an Amazon Drone Shipping Hub and a focus on attracting other recreational businesses. One innovative idea was for Kemmerer to be a site for reverse snow birding – tourists would be motivated to visit the city to stay cool in the summertime.
The Open Spaces and Recreation station ideas included Kemmerer as a hub for snow machine trails, complete with a dual-purpose ice rink and splash pad.
One suggestion was to reclaim the open pit mine for use as a winter sports complex with a biathlon course, a mini bobsled course, a skating pond, and a cross-country skiing course.
Land Use and Housing ideas for Kemmerer included temporary-use high-end condos, housing around Triangle Park — specifically in the Wilcox Building — and neighborhood trailer storage.
Residents also suggested removal of the tot lots and a plan for the hospital to work with the city to develop senior assisted living housing.
“I think it’s important to correctly frame the intent of this project,” Nelson said. “The Comprehensive Plan is an extremely high-level document to determine the values, vision, and direction the community is supposed to go. Think of it as looking at Kemmerer 20 years from now at 30,000 feet. A specific housing plan or housing plan would be a 20,000 foot-level. As we drill down more and more, we start looking for funding and put projects on a capital improvement plan...that’s a 10,000-foot level. Later, we fund these projects into the annual budget that’s the 5,000-foot level. And ultimately, we have to maintain these projects, which falls into daily operations which is a 1,000 foot level look at the City.”
Although Nelson explained it is meant to take 20 years to fully implement a comprehensive plan, the writing and adoption of the Kemmerer plan should be complete by January 2018.
The plan’s implementation is more complex, and will depend on staffing, funding and external factors. The next logical step after the plan’s completion is to amend City Code to match the plan’s vision.
Event attendees also took an online resident satisfaction survey (currently available at http://www.kemmerer.org/kemmerer-comprehensive-plan). The survey results will help inform the city’s comprehensive plan. The online survey will be open until May 31. Hard copies of the survey are available at the Rec Center, City Hall and the Senior Center.