Working on Kemmerer: what’s going on

The first page of the Downtown Redevelopment Services study showing the Triangle in Kemmerer.

The Kemmerer area has had many studies done in order to find ways to improve the city. During the beginning of fall, Downtown Redevelopment Services approached the City of Kemmerer saying they received funding from grants in order to help revitalize the downtown.

“As for selection of the communities, we partnered with the Wyoming Business Council to identify communities that were capable of completing the downtown planning process and communities that could utilize action-oriented goal setting to help begin revitalization,” Downtown Redevelopment Services president Benjamin Levenger said in an email.

“There was a lot of skepticism at first because we have had a lot of studies done in the past,” City Administrator Brian Muir said. “The challenge continues to be executing a plan.”

In September and October, Downtown Redevelopment Services came to Kemmerer and studied the downtown area. One aspect of their study was community input. A survey was published online as well as in the Kemmerer Gazette. The surveys asked for an age range, how often individuals visit the downtown, what amenities are needed, as well as various questions about the feel of downtown Kemmerer. A total of 174 surveys were completed in print and online by Kemmerer residents, according to Levenger. According to the final presentation put together by Downtown Redevelopment Services, the residents of Kemmerer want a coffee shop and family-friendly dining most of all. Most residents visit the downtown daily and said that improved retail or service establishments and improved programming would make the downtown more vibrant.

The recommendations given by Downtown Revitalization Services all circle around the same things, cleaning up the roads and sidewalks, fixing the outsides of buildings, creating a more unified programing and event planning group, communicating with the community and listening to what the community wants the downtown to be. Their main concern was that the downtown looks run-down and abandoned so no one wants to stop on their way through.

Muir said money is the biggest issue when it comes to projects for city improvement, especially now with budgets cuts happening left and right.

“The outcome of the study was good and they were brutally honest about what needs to happen for the downtown to be successful,” Muir said.

However, the idea that kept coming up throughout the report was the sense of apathy the community felt.

“We need more of a can-do attitude instead of can’t-do,” Muir said. “Right now, the sky is not falling.”

According to Muir, the city is currently working with Angelou Economics to try to put some of the studies to use. Angelou Economics is working to identify areas with 75-100 acres for light manufacturing sites the city could build and then market to business owners, Muir said.

Another aspect Angelou Economics is working on is rebranding Kemmerer. The current idea is to sell Kemmerer as the center of everything in the area, Muir said. Because we are so close to many major cities, Angelou Economics believes that the key to getting industries to Kemmerer is to market that fact, Muir said.

“We are still going to keep our fossils and other things, but we need to attract other industry to the town too,” Muir said.

Kemmerer is not the only area that will be affected by downtown revitalization, Diamondville, Opal and many others will be as well, Muir said. Not only do residents from these areas frequent the downtown, more industry will bring in more people and more money to the community.

“We need south Lincoln County to work together to revitalize and keep the downtown nice for everyone,” Muir said.

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