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The Cheyenne City Council again delayed a decision on buying part of the Hitching Post Inn until its next meeting Dec. 9. Some council members have voiced concerns over the cost of abating two of the buildings on the property. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – After postponing the decision to buy a portion of the Hitching Post Inn on Nov. 12, the city council decided to wait yet another two weeks to give its final say at the next meeting Dec. 9.

Joe Chenchar from the city attorney’s office asked council members Monday to postpone the $329,630 purchase that would give the city part of the Hitching Post property. At the last meeting, some council members voiced concerns over how much it would cost to abate the buildings in question, and city staff is still trying to work those numbers out.

“We just want to make sure we have everything right,” Chief Economic Development Officer Brendan Ames said. “We want to make sure we have all the numbers, and we want to explore all options to be sure we’re making the best decision possible.”

Ames said the city is looking to buy part of the property for better access to the Ice and Events Center. Owning the property would allow the city to improve lighting outside the center and add signage along Lincolnway.

Ames also said if the city purchases the property, it could spur other development in the area.

To abate all the buildings on the nearly 10-acre property would cost $2.1 million. The city is only eyeing two of the buildings on the property, which could potentially be resold at a later point. Ames said they hope to have more estimates for abatement of the two buildings next week.

“One of the reasons for postponement is going out to additional regional abatement companies and possibly lowering that cost,” Mayor Marian Orr said.

If the city approves the purchase at its next meeting, Chief Building Official Bruce Trembath gave council estimates for what it would cost to immediately stabilize the property. Adding fencing, boarding up the buildings and installing new lighting would cost just over $60,000.

Councilmen Rocky Case and Mike Luna voted no on the postponement.

Flights through CRA show promising numbers

Going into the holiday season, things are looking good for Cheyenne Regional Airport. The council unanimously approved to pay its part of the minimum revenue guarantee to SkyWest Airlines for continued air service to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team has secured funding from the state, city and county, and will be meeting with the Cheyenne-Laramie County Economic Development Joint Powers Board in the near future.

“We’re making progress,” said Wendy Volk, president of the Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team.

The city will pay up to $623,501. Minimum revenue guarantees are commonly used by airlines to mitigate risks of starting a new airline service. Going into year two with SkyWest, the minimum guarantee is lower than last year’s, which airport staff say reflects positive growth.

In terms of numbers, Volk said the airport is showing great results. The load factor, or how full the plane is, has increased by 20 percentage points from last November to reach 75.5%.

“Momentum is on our side,” Volk said.

The council unanimously approved the measure with no discussion.

Who should cover cost of police, fire rescue during public events?

Former Attorney General Patrick Crank gave a comment to the council about “user fees” for events like Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Parade. Entities that host such events are charged by the city for additional police and fire services.

Crank requested the council take two steps: build the cost of such events into the budgets of the Cheyenne Police Department and Cheyenne Fire Rescue, and change the city ordinance to disallow these “user costs.”

“These user fees are a user-based supplement for what (CPD and CFR) naturally do, which is public safety,” Crank said. “It just seems to me those should be built directly into their budget.”

In response, Mayor Orr talked about a growing population and how both departments could already use more funding and larger staffs.

“How do we police and not further burden the taxpayers with overtime expenditures by not charging for those services?” Orr asked.

In other business

The council approved a $102,434 grant agreement from the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security for Cheyenne Regional Response Team 7. The special operations team is activated by the state’s homeland security office to assist with hazardous materials calls in Laramie, Platte and Goshen counties.

The council approved a $39,695 professional service agreement with Trihydro Corporation for a subsurface methane investigation at the Happy Jack Landfill. Public Works Engineer Matt Theriault said methane was detected at the beginning of spring, which is common for landfills. Methane travels through the ground, so it only poses a threat when it gets trapped in basements and other enclosed spaces. According to Theriault, there is no immediate danger because no buildings are near the leak.

The council accepted a $95,000 bid from Loveland-based Evergreen Tennis Courts to resurface the tennis courts at Jaycee Park.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter @MargaretMAustin.

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