By Ernie Over, WyoToday

The Riverton City Council photographed on June 14, 2022. Wyotoday photo by Ernie Over

Following an executive session Tuesday night, the Riverton City Council voted unanimously to file suit against Century Link to recover damages suffered during the Sunset Street reconstruction at Broadway. A previously unknown fiber optic cable system was discovered by contractors building a new storm drain down the street, which resulted in a major delay of some 22 days as the drain had to be re-engineered and moved to so as not to damage the fiber optic lines. Councilors were told Tuesday that paving of the street during the phase one reconstruction should happen within the next seven to ten days, weather permitting. City officials also announced that due to the disruption the closure of the street had created, phase two of the work will be put off for one year so residents don’t have to suffered two construction seasons on the street in a row. It was also announced that residents north of Sunset on Broadway now have limited access across that intersection. 

Also following the executive session, the council approved beginning a recruitment for a new Public Works Director to replace Kyle Butterfield, who was promoted to City Administrator. 

In another action, Councilors voted to reduce the speed at the A & T Mobile Home Village, also known as the All Nations Mobile Home Village, from 25 mph to 15 mph with the addition of speed control devices on the only paved street there, Arapahoe. Police Chief Eric Murphy also reported he has instructed his patrol division to be in the area to check speeding when children who live in the subdivision are boarding school buses in the morning, or when they return home from school in the afternoon. The request for the lower speed limit was made by residents of the subdivision, 44 of whom signed a petition for the lower speed limit. 

Speaking in support of the change was Jose Proo, who collected the signatures and contacted City Hall requesting the issue be placed on the City Council agenda.  Darren Akao, a resident of the area, said he lives near the entrance to the subdivision and “I see everyone who comes in and goes out of there.
 He said he didn’t think the speed limit change would work, because people ignore the traffic signs. He told the council that unless there is enforcement of speed limit, some people there will continue to speed and he suggested adding speed bumps. “Once you hit those a couple of times, they’ll slow down.” He called the entrance to the subdivision “a drag strip.”

Lupe Rodriguez said he agreed with Akao. “Road conditions don’t slow them down and law enforcement can’t be there all the time. Speed bumps or dips would work better than a lower speed limit.

Proo said he understood concerns that people won’t slow down, “but we have to start somewhere first. We need the road fixed to show the city is with us. We’ll figure the rest out as we go.”

Brandy Weed, also a resident of the subdivision, said her concerns were for the safety of school kids. She said all of the side streets in the subdivision were dirt and “once they go onto the paved road, the take off and fly through there.” She called the danger to the kids, “Scary.”

In other action items at the meeting:

The City of Riverton’s real estate representative received an offer from R&N Investments, LLC to purchase two parcels of land at the Airport Business Park from the city in May 2022. The first parcel is located 4455 Airport Road and comprises LOT 1A of the Energy Industrial Park Replat. It is 4.99 acres in size and has direct access to Airport Road. The second parcel is located at 4424 Skylane Avenue and comprises 4.90 acres. Its western boundary is contiguous to Lot 3 of the Wind River Industrial Park and does not have public access. The offer from R&N Investments, LLC is for the purpose of economic development to allow NUCOR, Inc. to expand its business. The offer price to purchase 4455 Airport Road is $100,000. The comparative market analysis for the parcel is $105,000. The offer price to purchase 4424 Skylane Avenue is $12,250. The comparative market analysis for the parcel is $12,750. After discussion, the council agreed to sell the two lots for $112,250. 

• Sweetwater Aire LLC of Lander was the low bidder for the Sludge Building and Headwork’s Building at the Riverton Wastewater Treatment Plant for two Make-up Air Units (MAU)/heaters replacement in the amount of $111,745.00. There was another bid that just over $7,000 more. The bid was awarded to Sweetwater Aire.

• The Riverton City Council approved the purchase of one new, cab forward refuse truck with automated side loader and blade style compactor to Peterbilt of Wyoming for $353,396.00.  The truck was budgeted at $325,000. The The remaining amount of $28,396 will be absorbed within the Sanitation Fund Capital Budget with savings from postponed purchases. 

• According to City Administrator Kyle Butterfield, the broadcasting and reading equipment related to the city’s water metering infrastructure are aging, frequently breaking down, and are no longer supported by the manufacturer. These items are critical in the accounting of potable water that is distributed and consumed throughout the city. They also enable Utility Billing to accurately invoice and receive revenue for both the water and wastewater utilities. What’s more, recent low-lead regulations render current meters obsolete and prohibit city staff from repairing and replacing existing units. Consequently, staff would like to submit an application to the SLIB to support a water meter replacement project under the ARPA Water and Sewer Grant Program. The City Council adopted Resolution 1453 on August 2, 2022 in support of a grant application for the above referenced improvements. The Office of State Lands and Investment (OSLI) contacted city staff on September 11, 2022 requesting the dollar amount referenced in Resolution 1453 be amended to reflect only the state’s portion of the project costs, instead of the total project cost. Resolution 1457 does so. The amount requested from the state is $2,982,000. The council approved the amended resolution. 

In council member reports and comments:

• Councilor Dean Peranteaux reported the new gate to provide access to the tarmac at Central Wyoming Regional Airport has been installed and is working well. 

• Council member Kyle Larson said the airport is on schedule to reach the 10,000 passenger enplanement mark by the end of the year. He noted that Riverton has one flight a day from Skywest Airlines doing business as United Express, and that the second flight had been eliminated because of a national pilot shortage. Larson explained that major carriers curtailed their flights during the pandemic and lost pilots. So he said they went to the regional airlines and got their pilots. “We have the equipment but no one to fly them.” As a resulted, he said local county residents have adjusted their schedules and the morning flights to Denver have a better load factor with more passengers.

Larson also reported on the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Meeting he attended on Monday in Lander. He noted that closing a landfill, such as that just done at Shoshoni, requires a never ending process of testing of at least 30 years to determine is any leachate or pollution is coming from the closed landfill. 

• Council member Kristy Salisbury said the new WyRiverton Chamber and Visitors Center Director has already visited some 75 businesses in the community. She said the next big event, after this coming weekend’s Fall Harvest Festival, will be on November 5th with a Quick Draw sponsored by Arts in Action at CWC’s Peck Center Theatre.

• Butterfield reported the Sunset Park Playground has been completed and open with help from the Fremont County Recreation District, the Riverton Rotary Club and the Wind River Job Corps. A new rubberized surface was placed at the playground.

He said the season is now over the the Splash Pad at City Park after what he called “a very successful summer season with no issues other than a little vandalism.”

Butterfield said the Sunset Street Paving would occur in the next week to 10 days. He reported the city’s one cent optional tax committee is now looking at pavement preservation programs from the coming years to extend the life of some streets. He also said the committee has decided to put off the Sunset Phase II construction for another year, saying the residents there have had to endure major challenges with the street being closed. He said they wanted not to have two construction projects in a row there.

The City Administrator had praise for City Clerk and Human Resources Director Kristin Watson who just became a Certified Municipal Clerk from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks after 120 hours of instruction and testing. Butterfield also recognized her extensive experience on the job at City Hall, starting at the front desk and moving up. “We want to congratulate her for her professionalism.”

Among the topics discussed by Mayor Richard Gard, he said members of the city’s Tree Board had been out along the bike path to Adams, numbering trees with tags so the city knows what trees there are and what they need to stay healthy. 

He also said the airport tarmac gate referenced by Councilor Peranteaux, “cost $330,000 and it should work well!”