Cowley community center project set to begin

The community of Cowley will soon have a new community center with a project to remodel and expand the former Rasmussen Repair building east of the Log Gym getting under way this week.

Funding for the $650,000 project was provided by the Wyoming Business Council, with the Town of Cowley matching 30 percent, and the contract was signed last Thursday, Mayor Joel Peterson said, noting that the town has nearly met the match, largely with in-kind labor.

Peterson said the project will include attaching the new center to the Log Gym with a 16-foot corridor that will run the length of the building, a 30-by-35-foot addition at the west end of the building, a commercial kitchen and education center for cooking and classes, new restrooms and a large meeting room that can be divided into three spaces with folding walls.

The large meeting room will be much better for community meetings than the current town hall council chambers, which are much smaller, Peterson said, and the facility will be available for meetings and as a training center.

The bid for the project was awarded to Heart Mountain Construction of Cody, and Peterson noted that the recent bid process was the second time the town went out for bids on the project. He said the first bids received were “way out of line” so the town changed the scope of the work and re-bid the project. This time the bids came in within the project specifications.

The former Rasmussen Repair building, right, will soon be remodeled and attached to the Log Gym in Cowley to create a new community center for Cowley.
David Peck photo

“We were ecstatic about that,” Peterson said. “We extended the time frame of the project and eliminated some spectacular items that had been added by the architect, some cosmetic stuff.”

Peterson said the town held a pre-construction meeting last Thursday and a follow-up meeting was planned for yesterday (Wednesday), at which time the project will be under way. He said the project should be completed by about a year from now.

Water tower

Peterson said with the completion of the town’s water master plan about a year ago, the town has moved into the first phase of the plan: increasing water storage and replacing the water tower and system asbestos pipe.

He said piping will be updated with a chlorine injection system that would be available “if ever needed,” and the current 200,000 gallon water tower, built in 1980, would be replaced by a taller 500,000-gallon tower to better serve the growing community.

“We were turning water over in the tank every three hours during the summer and using 13.5 million gallons per month in the summer,” Peterson said.

He said moving water customers off potable water and into the new raw water system has helped, but the new tower will have better storage in the event of an emergency and provide better fire flow for hydrants.

Peterson said the town has received $3.1 million from the Wyoming Water Development Commission toward the $4.6 million project, and he noted that the town has been putting money aside every month to maintain the water system. That fund will be tapped to meet part of the $1.5 million match, with the town borrowing the match from a state revolving fund and using the continuing maintenance and repair fee to repay the loan.

The water tower project is already under way with the initiation of an environmental survey, and once that clears, the town will move ahead with engineering, location and preliminary work. Peterson said it is hoped that construction can begin next spring.

“We’ll use the present tower until the new tower is on line, at which point the old tower will be taken down to reduce maintenance costs. He said the new tower will be 60 feet taller than the current tower.

Peterson said the North Drainage Project is operating well, providing filtered raw water for lawn and garden watering. He said the system is much more efficient and reliable, providing cleaner water for irrigation and pumps and reducing the use of potable town water for irrigation and sprinkling.

Park project

Peterson said the town is continuing to work with the community on planning and figuring out how to fund continuing work near the splash park and the senior league baseball park. Future plans include a playground and other amenities.

“Projects are set aside and ready to go,” the mayor said. “It will be a few more years until we’ll have the funds to actually put a playground in.”

Peterson called the splash park “the most used piece of entertainment in town,” drawing people from as far away as Riverton. He said Cody and Riverton are emulating Cowley to put in their own splash parks.”

He said the town is listening to ideas for improving the area, such as providing shade on the south side of the splash park for parents watching their kids and for picnics. He said the town has put in new grass and a sprinkler system at the location of the sledding berm, which was good for sledding but later got muddy. He said the town will add a tee-ball field after the grass is established.

Peterson said the town is still investigating an ice skating rink to be placed in the baseball field during the winter so skating can take place under the lights.

“We’re trying to do it without killing the grass,” the mayor said. “It’s about $12,000 for a rink under the lights. The last thing we want to do is kill our baseball field.”

By David Peck