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Apathy, transient problem obstacles to improving City Park

Apr 28, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Riverton residents came to City Hall Thursday night to discuss the best direction to take toward improving Riverton City Park.

Riverton resident Lee Crook led the group among about 20 people that attended the park group's first meeting.

Crook created a logo for the group that displayed a heart between the words "Revitalize" and "Riverton." Property owners, members of the Central Wyoming Skateboarding Association, business owners, homeowners, and the city councilman Jonathan Faubion attended the meeting. Faubion is the council liaison to the group,

Not many attend

Attendees recognized two obstacles that have to be tackled before coming up with ideas on how to improve the park. The group debated whether fixing the public intoxication problem should be addressed first or whether finding ways to encourage more people to get involved ought to be the top priority.

"Why aren't they here tonight?" Crook asked. "It's not the public intoxication, it's ourselves... I think the biggest challenge we have is convincing the public."

Skateboarders said that many times, while going to door to door to ask for donations, they've been turned down by residents because they tell them City Park will be the location of the new skate park.

Features lost

CWSA chairman Chris McNeil said the mind set of many residents appears to be "It's ridiculous to them to fix up City Park without solving the problems that it has."

Downtown business owner Jerry Kintzler said it's been years since any improvements have been done at City Park. Instead, the swimming pool, ice skating rink and the Little League ball field were taken out.

"There's a lot of things that we let come and go," Kintzler said. "If we're going to reclaim, it we have to do something that's going to make people go down there."

The group agreed that because of its central location, more people should be interested improving and using the park.

"I'm upset that there's not a lot of people in the room," said Riverton resident George Wright. "It's a showplace piece of property."

McNeil suggested that with a new skate park and other features such as a dog park or basketball courts were added, the problem could resolve itself.

Some skateboarders from CWSA responded, however, that the problems could simply move to another park, so dealing with it directly would be best.

"Riverton has to deal with it more," CWSA member Bryan Johnson said. "I'm forbidden to go to the skate park because of that problem."

McNeil said many kids are not allowed to visit the skate park due to the transients.

He added that the members of CWSA are not giving up in their plans and have taken their own shovels and wrenches to remove the snow that accumulates in the present skate park and to repair the broken ramps.

Future projects

Faubion informed the group of some key components the city has come up with that will take a different approach to the problems. The city has placed public intoxication at the top of its list for its 2013 city goals.

A possible merger between Volunteers of America-Northern Rockies organization from Sheridan and the Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center is under discussion. That would provide extensive treatment to people with substance abuse problems.

The solutions committee, is another group that could help, he said. Some of its members work with outreach programs and could join forces to help better identify the problems and ways to approach the people who need help.

Faubion also mentioned that the council has considered the idea of placing emergency call boxes at the park could alert the police department of trouble with the press of a button.

"It's not an unsafe place, it just feels that way," he said, adding that by simply placing the boxes there it will be less likely that someone will want to start trouble.

Kintzler added to the optimism of the group by confirming that equipment has been purchased for the planned fountain to be placed at the park. McNeil shared the news that the association has raised more than $10,000 and has partnered with the Depot Foundation, another organization that helps groups obtain funds and complete projects.

A date for the next meeting will be announced.

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