Open house meeting April 5

Town of Lovell seeks input on project

The Town of Lovell is seeking input from the public on a number of important topics at an open house-style public meeting tonight (Thursday) at the Lovell Community Center.

The meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. will include a number of stations where people can stop and discuss proposals and projects including the upcoming Main Street phase of the water and sewer infrastructure project, entryway enhancements at the east and west ends of Main Street, the location of a planned 150-foot cell tower and the proposed sixth-cent sales tax for Big Horn County communities.

“People can come and go and discuss things” in the open house format, Mayor Bruce Morrison said Tuesday. “We’ll have different topics at different tables.”

Added engineer Frank Page, “We didn’t want to make it so formal. We wanted to have some interaction and get some dialogue going.”

Morrison said there will be four main discussion topics:

1) Main Street Phase of the water and sewer project, tentatively set to begin in 2014, and the major question to be answered is: median strip or no median strip?

“The big deal is the median strip,” Morrison said. “WyDOT (the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation) requires that we have a public meeting on that.

“It will be taken out, because the sewer line is right below it. We have to decide if we want to pay to put it back in. If we do leave it out, the only part that will stay in is on West Main from Hampshire around the corner next to the sugar factory.”

One of the main issues having to do with the median strip is snow removal. Without a median, snow is much more easily removed, Morrison said, and with the median in place, snow accumulates and is piled on top of the median with plowing.

“It’s not an island of safety when you leave snow on it,” he said, noting that he has seen many a person struggling to cross the pile of snow during the winter.

Without the median, the town would remove the snow and be reimbursed for the effort by WyDOT since Main Street is also a U.S. highway.

While that’s the main topic for tonight’s open house, other questions regarding the water and sewer project can be addressed, Morrison said.

One important issue the town and WyDOT want to hear input on from people is what to do with Mustang Days when Main Street construction is under way – whether to hold the Rose Parade down a street under construction or move the parade route.

“We’re looking for ideas, and WyDOT needs to know so they can get it in their specs for contractors,” the mayor said.

Design work for the Main Street Phase has been funded by the WyDOT, the State Loan and Investment Board and the Wyoming Water Development Commission. The town will seek construction funding later this year and in 2013 for construction in 2014.

2) Entryway enhancements. Morrison said a committee met last fall to discuss ideas for enhancing the entryways on each end of Main, with money being made available through WyDOT to do the work, much like funding Cowley tapped to enhance its Main Street.

At the open house, representatives will talk about the ideas the committee came up with and also take comments and new ideas from the public.

3) Cell tower. The town has been working with Verizon Wireless to consider a number of locations for a 150-foot communications tower. Morrison said the town considered the rodeo grounds, near the westernmost water tank atop the hill and the old dump site west of town near the Shoshone River bridge, then settled on the location of the old Lovell Cable TV head end facility just down the alley from Red Apple.

“We want to know if people have a problem with seeing a 150-foot tower there,” Morrison said.

He said Verizon is also planning a tower in or near Cowley.

4) Sixth-cent sales tax. Lovell is one of nine Big Horn County municipalities considering projects for a proposed sixth-cent sales tax designed to fund capital construction projects. Six of the nine municipalities must give the go-ahead in order for the proposed sales tax to be placed on the general election ballot in November.

Morrison said the ideas that have come up so far for Lovell’s project (or projects) include a new building that would house both the Lovell-Kane Museum and the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center and, suggested this week, new restrooms and a concessions area for the Lovell Rodeo Grounds.

At tonight’s meeting the town will explain the proposed sixth-cent tax program and the current ideas for the money and will also listen to any new ideas for projects whether citizens are for or against the proposal. Morrison said written comments will also be accepted.

“The bottom line is that the people will vote on it and decide,” Morrison said. “It’s not like we’re trying to shove it down people’s throats. It’s an avenue for funding that can work really well.

“It’s going to be a tough sell. I’m totally for it. I think it’s a great way to do some of the projects we need.”

There is a short time frame to get the sales tax proposal approved for the ballot, and that’s why Thursday night’s meeting is important, Morrison said. It’s a chance for people to weigh in on the idea and either accept or reject going forward with the proposal and/or accept or reject the ideas expressed for Lovell’s portion.

People can come or go tonight at their leisure, Morrison stressed, with no formal presentations to be made.

By David Peck