CHEYENNE – With another sixth-penny sales tax ballot coming down the pipeline, members of the city’s Community Recreation and Events Department outlined their top priorities – Cheyenne Civic Center renovations and a new cemetery – at a City Council work session Monday night.
According to City Treasurer Robin Lockman, the city has collected $33,691,443 out of the previous $40,850,000 ballot thus far, and Council President Mark Rinne said he anticipates another sixth-penny ballot to go out to voters next fall.
“I think it would serve us well to start doing our homework now and get some background on the sixth-penny projects that some of our departments would like to move forward,” Rinne said at the work session.
The first proposal outlined an expanded remodel of the Cheyenne Civic Center, which hasn’t seen many updates in its 40-year lifespan, according to Community Recreation and Events Director Teresa Moore. The department completed a conceptual design in 2019, in anticipation of sixth-penny discussions, and the proposed project totals around $40 million, though Moore noted the renovations could be scaled back with budgetary constraints.
“This facility was built in 1981; it’s coming up on 40 years. During those 40 years, there has been little investment in this building,” Moore said.
Currently, the Civic Center has no loading dock for performers, an outdated HVAC system, inadequate seating and insufficient equipment that leads to using rentals.
The renovations would revamp the front of the building, allowing more visibility for the facility and advertising for events. The bathroom facilities would also be expanded, doubling the amount of water closets and urinals; a loading dock would be added; the concession area would be expanded; and the seating would be improved to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
A multi-purpose room would also be added for rehearsals, weddings, lectures and meetings, and it would be available to rent.
“Cheyenne and the region support the Civic Center and deserve better functionality and a high-quality experience,” Moore said. “Cheyenne has made an investment in this asset, creating it in the first place, and we think it needs our protection and our investments for future generations.”
The second proposal from Community Recreation and Events is for a new cemetery that would be built at the arboretum, next to the new Cheyenne National Cemetery. According to department Deputy Director Jason Sanchez, the city is currently running out of space.
“Most of the available spaces are single spaces; they’re undesirable. We don’t have any family plots remaining,” Sanchez said.
The new cemetery would house 3,644 interments, which Sanchez said would last the city about 20 more years, as they do an average of 150 burials annually. A cemetery master plan was completed in 2014, and the estimated cost is just over $7 million for the new cemetery, as well as to update the irrigation system at Lakeview Cemetery.
While some councilmen questioned whether the city should let the private cemetery industry take over, the department stood by the idea that this is a service that should be provided by the city.
“We feel it’s an inarguable effect that the citizens of Cheyenne enjoy the security, with the knowledge that their city will not abandon the cemetery,” Sanchez said. “It’s expected – because of the historic operation of the municipal cemetery system – that future services will be provided even when existing facilities are full.”
Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.