County 17’s coverage of the final master plan presentation itself is available here.
GILLETTE, Wyo. — The roughly 75 people who attended the CAM-PLEX master plan presentation and Q&A session Oct. 10 included politicians, government staff, business owners and other community members.
Many people asked questions or made statements. Here are some of them.
Jack Clary, a Legacy Ridge resident, said he is concerned about whether sewer and water systems would need expansion and what cost there would be for taxpayers. He also wanted to know where the capital funding would come from.
Jaime Tarver of DOWL said that while the team expects there will be an increased demand on sewer and water, they do not expect there would need to be any rebuilding of major facilities.
“The city and the county usually do a very good job of planning for the future when they do design their infrastructure,” she said. “For example, the wastewater lift stations do get designed usually for that 2030-plus-year lifespan to anticipate growth that we would think this would fit within.”
Determining how to pay for the project is the next stage in the process, CSL International Director Joel Feldman said. Options include state funding, fundraising and a local optional sales tax.
“Ultimately, it’s gonna come down to what the community is looking to pursue,” he said.
Who and what economically benefits from the facility should also be identified as possible sources of funding. They want users, both local and non-local, to continuously help generate revenues to pay for the improvements and the economic drivers.
Rocky Marquiss said he does not want a hotel onsite, which could be added to attract clients who run conferences, to be a competition between publicly funded enterprises and private businesses. Governments should not run businesses.
“It’s not fair,” he said.
Bob Jordan, who skipped his consistent Campbell County School District board meeting attendance routine to attend the CAM-PLEX presentation, asked the consultant how they would recommend the community find the funding for the project.
Feldman said there are many options and until the team receives more direction on what opportunities are possible, it is currently hard to say which are best. Those conversations are crucial moving forward, but, at this point, agreement on a plan is important.
Jordan said that while the master plan is good, he is concerned costs will far exceed $275 million due to inflation and cost overruns.
“That is Campbell County,” he said. “We’re pretty good at doing that. So, I mean, if you did a normal Campbell County shuffle, everybody could be promised something. I’ve been watching this about 45 years now.”
He said he believes attendance at CAM-PLEX activities will not be as strong as the master planners project.
Populous Director of Equestrian Services Todd Gralla said that the planners have learned about the history of CAM-PLEX and the construction of the Wyoming Center and its efficiency and costs. Hard costs for master planners’ projects are based on current known costs, actual bids and estimates, and then, for particular buildings, they add more specific values and a 20% design contingency. They also add percentages for things like overhead bonds and a project maintenance equipment fund.
Executive Director Aaron Lyles said he specifically asked the team to raise the estimate of costs so that no matter what happens, the project will cost less than estimated. The project will also create an ongoing maintenance fund, which the facility does not currently have. Maintenance funding is simply annually appropriated.
Campbell County Commissioner Kelley McCreery said he anticipates the population of Gillette and surrounding towns and municipalities will grow as people leave cities. These people have money. He believes coal and oil will remain. Still, Gillette will need to make changes at CAM-PLEX. Fees for using the space will need to increase for those who can afford to pay.
“I’m looking for somebody to help encourage everybody else that this thing might work out all right, if we have enough faith in ourselves, because we always seem to be able to do it,” he said.
Lyles said that what is essential is developing a common vision.
“We just actually have to get to one playing field so that we’re all working from one rulebook, because as long as the rulebook is different, nobody’s happy and 10 years from now, somebody is going to be saying, ‘Do you remember when they promised us this and we got this?’ We need to stop that cycle, and it’s been a very long cycle here in Campbell County.”
He said he does not anticipate everyone will be happy.
Jordan said he does not want the community to be lied to.
“We’ve been down this road. I don’t think you’re going to do that to us, Aaron,” he said.
The Campbell County Public Land Board’s next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12.