The Fremont County School District 25 Recreation Board awarded a record amount of funding to local organizations this week, distributing a total of almost $491,000 in one evening.
“That was a fun night,” Riverton City Councilmember Lindsey Cox said during a regular meeting Tuesday. “We granted a lot of money to a lot of really good projects in town.”
Riverton City Councilmember Dean Preanteaux said the Rec Board approved almost $250,000 in regular grants this week.
“That is fortunate for us that we can put that amount into youth soccer,” Riverton City Councilmember Kyle Larson commented. “That pays dividends.”
Riverton City Councilmember Mike Bailey agreed that the recreation facility is “a project that we can all get behind.”
“I think it would be a great addition to the City of Riverton to be able to have a facility like that so we can bring a lot of different teams and people to town and give our youth some places that they can recreate in the wintertime when it’s a little more challenging,” Bailey said. “I think it’s a good deal overall.”
State funding, local support
Wyoming Rep. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, is working to include $3.5 million in matching funding for the project in the state’s capital construction bill, Bailey pointed out, encouraging local residents to get involved in that effort.
Riverton Mayor Tim Hancock echoed Bailey’s comments, asking residents to reach out to their state legislators to let them know the project “has support from the community.”
The council voted to send Salazar their own letter of support for the recreation center during Tuesday’s meeting, and several community members took the opportunity at that time to express their opinions on the project, all of which were positive.
“This facility would be great for our kids (and) great for our quality of life,” local resident Cathy Cline said. “It’s an investment in our economic development that will bring families from all over Wyoming for tournaments. They’ll stay in hotel rooms, they’ll go to our restaurants, and I just think it’s really good for business.”
Riverton Chamber of Commerce president James Bunker reiterated Cline’s comments, calling the rec center project “a huge economic development opportunity for the community.”
“If you’re even remotely involved in Fremont County … this is something you should be on board with,” Bunker said. “It will affect so many different aspects of life here. It would be great to have.”
Lori Sanders, the Riverton coordinator for Special Olympics Wyoming, said the proposed facility would offer her organization “a wonderful opportunity (to) have space to participate and do our games and practice,” while local resident Andrea Fritz suggested that parents in the community could use the rec center to “get our kids together.”
“There are not enough places for us to be able to gather when the weather is icky,” Fritz said. “Having a facility where we can go … would be really great.”
Riverton city administrator Kyle Butterfield said other groups have contacted municipal staff to discuss the “potential” for “additional amenities” at the proposed facility – for example, an indoor walking and running track.
No matter what amenities are included in the final proposal, however, Butterfield said it will likely cost more than $7 million to build the recreation center – and once it’s constructed, additional funding will be required to operate the facility.
Butterfield estimated that annual operating costs could total as much as $900,000, “depending on the type of facility that’s constructed.”
“Ideally, (those) operating costs would be offset by operating revenues,” he said. “However, the majority of recreational facilities in the state of Wyoming are not self-sustaining, (so) annual municipal subsidies are often required, fundraising events in the community are required, or earnings generated from an endowment are also an opportunity to help support operations.”
Staff will study those “details” over the next several months as “the implementation of this potential project moves forward,” Butterfield said.
For more information, call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.