By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Rest area is overlooked resource for Pine Bluffs

 

Charlene Smith

Pine Bluffs resident John Marquardt talked about the amount of traffic that stops at the Pine Bluffs rest area at the community assessment Thursday evening as the discussion led to attracting people to Pine Bluffs.

“My wife works at the rest area, and 90,000 people signed the book last year,” Marquardt said. “They estimate over 120,000 people stop each year.”

Executive director Mary Randolph of Wyoming Rural Development Council, and Jo Ferguson senior rural development specialist for WRDC directed the Pine Bluffs residents in attendance to “think big for the future.”

“The first time we came to Pine Bluffs in 2003, 75 people showed up,” Randolph explained. “We came back five years later and had over 275 residents come with ideas of improvement for their town.”

The key points the residents looked to improve in the past were infrastructure, recreation, business development and attracting residents.

Randolph reviewed the positive strides made in those directions with the new commerce building, the day care, the pool expansion and the revamped community center.

“Almost every community’s big dream is to have a community center and you now have a reconstructed one,” exclaimed Randolph.

Pine Bluffs resident Jim Cummings said although the center was new, no one could afford to use them.

“We’ve had our gun show in Pine Bluffs for a number of years, and we moved it to Burns because of the expense to have it here,” explained Cummings. “And I was going to the pool for adult lap swim until babies and kids and dogs started swimming at the lap time. And I won’t be back.”


Randolph noted the negatives and asked the residents to focus on improving what they felt needed help. Randolph noted the day care was a state of the art facility and one of many things to be proud of. Cummings said he didn’t think the town should be in “commercial business hurting other businesses.”

Residents Todd Sweeter and Brian Heithoff said they would like to see more middle income housing and felt many people would commute to work in Cheyenne if they could live in Pine Bluffs. Sweeter said he knew of many commuters now in the community.

Cummings felt the community needed to focus on attracting businesses first before building houses. Randolph explained it might be a “chicken before the egg,” but both items needed to be addressed.

One project that was requested at the 2008 assessment was recycling waste water to hydrate the lawns in the parks. Town administrator Caryn Miller said the cost was too great to start it but if the system was ever redone, it could be worked into the budget. Miller added the recycling program for waste products was going well.


Other areas of discussion were jobs for teens and things for that age group to do. Randolph reminded the group that they felt drugs and alcohol was an issue in 2008 and the group agreed it was still an issue. Some felt the police department needed to patrol more often.

Heithoff thought the archeological dig could be “dressed up” and maybe even move the museum out to the site and open it full time. He added if 90,000 people were stopping at the rest area, perhaps some of the focus should be improving that part of town and not all on main street.

Some other thoughts were a non-leash dog park, and some residents joked their front lawns were already a non-leash park.

Conversations and thoughts on improving Pine Bluffs slowed and Randolph wrapped up the evening by telling the residents they had a “pretty good little town.” She said WRDC would work with Miller in the coming months and put together a five-year plan for Pine Bluffs.

Charlene Smith

 

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