Oct 31, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterThe Riverton City Council has recruited a University of Wyoming intern to determine the best use for the city's recently acquired property at 422 E. Main St.
Angela Cochran, a master's of public administration student at UW, will poll the community over the coming weeks to find out what people want on the downtown corner. She said the project is a requirement of her degree program, but as a five-year Riverton resident she also looks forward to leaving her mark on the city.
"In May I became a U.S. citizen," the Ukraine native said. "I'm excited I can have some influence in this community. (It's) a new motherland for me."
She already has spoken with local civic organizations, and last week she met with members of Riverton's downtown business community to see what they think about the lot. She also plans to host a public meeting so other residents can voice their opinions and vote on options.
"My task is to determine (the) peoples' will," Cochran said. "Then I will write kind of like a recommendation to the city council, and it will be up to them whether to (accept it) or not."
The city has drawn a diagram showing one potential use of the space as a landscaped area with room for a handful of vehicles to park. Cochran said people also have talked about installing public restrooms or using the space for a larger parking lot.
"I'd rather see a park, someplace people can relax," Out Sportin' owner Clay Hendrix said during Cochran's meeting with local business owners. "We want people to be downtown."
He approved of the handful of parking spaces in the city's design example, but Hendrix said a municipal parking lot already exists behind Kusel's on North Broadway Avenue.
Monica Long, owner of The Escape Salon and Spa, said her employees and customers would appreciate a parking lot closer to the east end of Main Street.
"My people hardly ever get to park in front of the building," Long said, adding that a parking lot could be landscaped to complement the rest of the downtown area.
The business owners also discussed the merits of a public restroom on the empty lot. Some said restrooms would lead to problems with vandalism and other crimes, while others thought those problems could be addressed with security cameras and police
"You look for solutions," Hendrix said. "I think there needs to be a restroom."
Golden Buffalo owner Jerome Hutchison said people frequently interrupt the flow of business in his store when they ask to use his restroom. If public restrooms are installed, however, he said he would want them to be maintained properly to ensure they are used for their intended purpose.
Cochran said her project is scheduled to last about three months, during which she will welcome feedback from anyone interested in the future of the Main Street lot. People can send their suggestions to City Hall or contact Cochran at 240-0377.
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