The Riverton City Council gave staff the go-ahead this week to prepare funding agreements for three recipients of half percent sales tax money for economic development.
The council also earmarked $125,000 in half percent funds for the Riverton Youth Soccer Association, pending further information about the feasibility of their proposed project.
Six entities applied for half percent funding this round, with requests totaling $931,248, staff said in a memo.
The requests included:
-$269,000 for Child Development Services of Fremont County for preschool teachers general education, recruitment and retention
-$207,468 for Brunton International for illuminated compasses
-$184,780 for Legacy Foam Solutions for a foam unit and lift
-$135,000 for HoneyFly Company for a building and community garden
-$125,000 for the Riverton Youth Soccer Association for a soccer complex expansion
-$10,000 for Media Adventure Queen for podcast consultation and production
Riverton’s Evolve, Diversify and Grow our Economy (EDGE) Committee met July 13 and heard presentations from each of the applicants, staff said, noting that the half percent sales tax fund only held about $230,000 available for distribution this round.
The EDGE Committee presented the following funding recommendations to the council this week:
-$125,000 for the Riverton Youth Soccer Association
-$90,000 for Legacy Foam Solutions
-$76,286 for Brunton International
-$3,464 for Media Adventure Queen
Before making a decision about the recommendations, Councilmember Kyle Larson said he wanted more information about the Brunton, Legacy Foam, and RYSA projects.
Kevin Kershisnik, the executive director of Riverton’s economic development arm IDEA Inc., said Brunton is “looking at developing a new product for military contracts,” and they plan to work with local businesses like Legacy Molding and Pertech as part of the project, “so those monies are going to be used for local manufacturers to produce that product for them.”
“They’re vertically integrating in the area, which is helping all the local manufacturers,” Kershisnik said. “It’s a great opportunity to assist them in their business going forward.”
Legacy Foam owner Reggie Larsen, a “lifelong” Fremont County resident, talked about his company’s plan to add another spray foam unit and lift to its inventory in order to “meet the demands of our local and extended markets.”
The purchase would allow the company to hire up to three additional full-time crew members, expand into the roofing and lifting sector, and build “our own brick and mortar shop and office while strengthening our roots in Riverton and in this community,” he wrote in his funding application.
Legacy is also interested in exploring “a strategic partnership with the city to provide (our) services at discount as part of this award,” Larsen said.
The Riverton Youth Soccer Association wants to expand its offerings by purchasing a 12-acre lot near Willow Creek Elementary School, RYSA board member Josh Saltsgaver said.
“Our plan is to put in soccer fields there (and) eventually an indoor facility,” he told the council this week. “This would help facilitate our tournaments.”
Over the past 20 years, local soccer players have “kind of leaned on all the people in the community” to find places to compete, Saltsgaver said, often utilizing the fields at Central Wyoming College.
CWC started a college soccer program a few years ago, however, so Saltsgaver said RYSA doesn’t have the “luxury” of using their fields on a regular basis anymore.
The new property near the elementary school would provide a field that RYSA could utilize on a “full-time” basis, he said, with scoreboards to meet the requirements for hosting regional soccer tournaments – events that bring “a lot of money into the community.”
Fremont County School District 25 could use the field too, he added, since they recently started a soccer team at Riverton Middle School but don’t “have fields.”
“They essentially kind of just go wherever they can,” Saltsgaver said. “I know at one point they were considering practicing in Jaycee Park. (They were) finding grass wherever they could.”
By purchasing the field, Saltsgaver said RYSA would be embarking on “phase one of something so much bigger than just youth soccer.”
“It’s a partnership with the city to have a really nice facility that will host big events and hopefully help hockey as well as any other entity (that is) sports-related,” he said. “We’re just trying to be that driving force to get it off the ground.”
City administrator Kyle Butterfield confirmed that the “long-term proposal” for the field is to have the city take it over and maintain it – an effort that wouldn’t have “too much impact” on the local parks department but might be difficult “when it comes to the water supply.”
“I don’t think we have enough information yet to speak confidently about the ability to water the proposed area,” Butterfield said. “That is something our water team is still looking into (and) have not yet had a firm answer on, and it is a concern.”
At this point, public works director Brian Eggleston said the city’s water system “is about maxed out,” producing approximately 100 million gallons a month in the summertime – up from about 30 million gallons a month in the winter.
“We’re diverting water, obviously, out of the canals … to help fuel the water plant, (and we’re) running wells to supplant the usage in the city,” he explained. “So any additional draw (is) certainly a big impact.”
The city is currently performing a water master plan and could “analyze” the situation as part of that project, Butterfield noted, so the council decided to earmark the economic development funding for RYSA pending more information about the local water supply, which they hoped to get in the coming months.
“We support (the project),” Councilmember Kristy Salisbury said, “but we need to make sure we have our ducks in a row.”
Mayor Tim Hancock agreed that the funding for RYSA “is a little bit premature.”
“We (don’t) want to be funding the purchase of property that’s not going to be going towards what we’re wanting it to go towards, which would be a soccer field,” he said. “(We don’t) want to jump into funding it unless we felt comfortable that we’re going to have green grass and not brown grass, or no grass.”
The council approved the other three funding requests as presented.
For more information, call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.