Revitalize Riverton Committee to improve City Park held first meeting; Turnout smaller than expected

(Riverton, Wyo.)- A small but interested cross section of Riverton residents attending a meeting at City Hall Thursday night discovered that two components on plans to renovate Riverton City Park are already in motion.

The Central Wyoming Skateboard Association announced that it had already raised just over $10,000 in its effort to build a new skatepark, and downtown businessman Jerry Kintzler said plans for a city park water feature already exist and that some equipment had already been purchased.

The committee was authorized by the Riverton City Council after businessman Lee Crook made a presentation last month on how city residents could reclaim the park and make it family friendly. He proposed a parking lot inside the park, establishing a water feature near the North Federal and East Main intersection and adding a splash pad, basketball courts, a dog park and other features.

While only 16 people attended what was to be an organizational meeting for the committee, they were all in general agreement that something needed to be done to increase the usage of the park by families and groups.

Kintzler gave a historical recap of how the park had been developed and the kind of uses that formerly were in place there. He said the park used to be used for ice skating in the winter, there was a Little League baseball diamond there, a gazebo for public events and an outdoor swimming pool. “Over the years facilities were relocated out of the park to other locations, and we couldn’t ice skate there anymore because it warmed up enough that the ice melted. He said the Rotary Club built the band shell there, “but nothing has been done for years to improve the park.”

Photo cutlines (LtoR):

George Wright addressed the Revitalize Riverton Committee meeting Thursday night.

Lee Crook opened the meeting and told of goals for  renovation of City Park.

Wyatt LeClair made a point during the discussion Thursday night. Also pictured are, from left, Bryan Johnson, LeClair, Ethan Dale and Robert Dodrill.

Chris Amend said he was ready to support the renovation effort but wanted to see more concrete plans.

Nearly half of the meeting was taken up in discussing the negative perception that most people hold of the park because of it being a “hang out” for intoxicated people and how to overcome that perception.

Of the 10 youthful skateboard enthusiasts who attended the meeting, several said that their parents forbid them from using the present skatepark because of its location. “The community has allowed the intox problem to persist for so long, that they’re getting tired of it,” said Bryan Johnson. “I’m forbidden to go to the skatepark because of that problem.”

“The park isn’t dangerous,” said Chris McNeil, “but it can be uncomfortable for some people.”

City Council member Jonathan Faubion, the city’s liaison to the committee, said the council’s number one goal was to target public intoxication, and he said efforts are underway “to move the needle by trying things we haven’t done before.” Faubion said the impending merger of the Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center with Volunteers of America would lead to a new approach in dealing with intoxicated people. He also said the city is considering adding a call box and camera at the park to increase security.

Kintzler suggested that since the skateboard association was working hard to get a new facility for its use, he thought other groups could be organized around their particular activity and attractions could be added at the park for them.

George Wright called City Park a “showplace piece of property that is not developed.”

Crook reminded the attendees that “a snowball always starts small” and he said he would not give up on plans to improve the park.

Crook said another meeting would be planned with more notice the next time to increase the number of people interested in working on the project.