To kick off their annual retreat Friday, the Laramie city councilors reviewed the city’s progress on several council goals set in 2017.
During the council’s previous retreat, councilors agreed on 23 biennial goals they would like to see accomplished by January 2019.
As an update on city staff’s progress toward those goals, Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan presented councilors with a spread sheet Friday detailing the status of various goal-oriented projects around Laramie.
Below is a summary of Jordan’s report on the first 10 goals listed in city documents. A full list can be requested from the city manager’s office.
1. Initiate a parking plan for downtown, residential districts and vendors in rights of way. Investigate parking enforcement partnerships
The Laramie Parks and Recreation Department, working in partnership with the Laramie Main Street Alliance, made several improvements to the Bolton parking lot, located in Depot Park, including filling pot holes, re-striping parking spaces, landscaping and lighting.
Regarding parking enforcement partnerships, the University of Wyoming and Laramie Main Street Alliance are slated to investigate parking options for the residential parking districts and downtown.
The council approved a mobile vending ordinance in September to provide regulations related to food trucks and other mobile vendors in the right-of-way.
“I think the ordinance was a good thing,” Jordan said. “We would have been out inspecting the vendors anyway, but we’ve been making more contact with them since the ordinance was passed, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Throughout the year, city staff implemented parking solutions such as back-in angled parking near the Laramie Plains Museum and Garfield Street.
2. Continue technological and software upgrades and investments for efficiency in customer service
While Jordan provided the council with a list of several milestones made toward bringing the city’s operations into the 21st century, some of the highlights were updating the municipal court’s case management software, the Public Works Division working to transition to a paperless work flow and City Council transitioning to a paperless agenda.
City documents also state Laramie’s Engineering Division started using software known as Blue Beam to facilitate development and construction project plan reviews. The software is slated to speed up and simplify the process of providing review comments, while also making the comments easier to understand by the designer.
3. Strengthen community agency partnerships and work on joint projects
City staff worked directly with the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and Main Street to co-host a community tour and welcome party for the statewide “Wyoming Working Together” conference in September. The tour was expanded in December when the Governor’s ENDOW executive council visited Laramie.
Laramie Planning Division Associate Planner Eric Conner received a scholarship from the Wyoming Business Council to attend the National Main Street Conference with a local delegation.
In its third year, the Laramie Youth Council continues to receive financial and staff support from Albany County School District No. 1 and growth in its membership base.
4. Continue beautification efforts
Parks and recreation completed the east Grand Avenue sidewalk and landscaping project and conducted the 2017 Community Service Project of planting trees between the Laramie Regional Airport and the city limits on Wyoming Highway 130. The department is also working on a beautification project around a retention pond near the intersection of Chippewa and Indian Hills drives, which could be completed this spring.
The city’s Code Enforcement and Planning Division are involved in a concentrated monitoring effort for nuisance and other violations along major gateways into the Laramie community.
“We can beautify all we want, but if other folks maintain their ugly, where are we really getting?” Jordan asked. “In the code division and the planning division, we’ve been really focusing on enforcing zoning and nuisance violations, and gaining some good traction there.”
5. Encourage West Laramie Revitalization
City staff played a significant role in the permitting of major projects within West Laramie, including Bright Agrotech, which is now owned by Plenty, the Wyoming Game and Fish Headquarters, Tungsten Heavy Powder and Parts Phase II, Simple Start Daycare, Big D Conoco, HIVIZ Shooting Systems — Phase II, the National Guard Readiness Center, a Tesla Charging Station, Simple 5 Batch Plant and Murdoch’s Distribution Center.
“When you look at the bulk of that — 11 projects — I dare say, West Laramie is our hottest ward in town,” Jordan said. “West Laramie has sat fallow out there for so many years with nothing changing. But things are changing.”
Additionally, the council executed a grant agreement for a $300,000 award in September from the Environmental Protection Agency for a Brownfield Assessment Grant focused on Laramie’s West Side. The award is slated to be used over a three-year period to assess potentially contaminated properties primarily in the industrial areas surrounding the residential area.
6. Adopt city-wide drainage plan and funding policy
The North, South, and West Laramie storm drainage master plans are complete, and the final phase of the project to combine those documents into one master plan could commence within a few weeks. The project is scheduled to be complete within 12-18 months.
7. Adopt long-term curb and gutter plan and funding policy
The city completed an inventory of all curb, gutter, sidewalk and Americans with Disabilities Act ramps.
“The inventory also assessed the condition of the curbs and gutters,” Jordan said.
She said, however, she was unsure of what city council would like the city to do for the next step.
8. Enhance council communications and engagement with the public and social media
City Staff updated the city’s website, which could improve mobile and tablet user interactions as well as provide visitors easier access to some of the most searched sections of the site.
9. Adopt a long-term financial strategy, inclusive of the fifth cent renewal, seventh cent, mill levy and bonding for infrastructure
City documents state staff combined long-term historical trend analysis with forward looking forecasts to inform decision making for the city’s general and enterprise funds, as well as analyzing the structural balance in the city’s various funds.
The city of Laramie worked with the Wyoming Association of Municipalities to research and revise multiple financial reports.
Recognizing that Laramie’s retail sector is essential to sales tax revenue, Laramie contracted The Retail Coach in early 2017 to help the city improve existing retail and attract new retail to the community.
10. Continue energy efficiency efforts in municipal facilities
Staff has applied was awarded a Wyoming Association of Municipalities/Wyoming County Commissioners Association energy lease loan for the replacement of the Animal Shelter heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The system could replace a less efficient unit and continue to advance the city’s efforts towards energy efficiency.
Laramie’s Fire Department facilities operate 365-days a year, 24-hours a day, so energy efficiency efforts have focused on managing electrical usage when the electricity is not required.
“We’ve also contracted with Honeywell to assist us in our planning efforts for the north campus public works service center project, so we can incorporate efficiency and green energy into that project,” Jordan said.