City Manager Carter Napier told the City Council during their Tuesday, April 9 work session that the City wants to pave the parking lot at Hogadon Basin Ski Area and install air conditioning in the lodge.
“We hope to have a large increase in wedding activities and other summer uses for Hogadon to supplement the business that we do up there,” Napier told the Council. “We do believe that enhancements in the parking lot, and enhancement from an air conditioning standpoint make sense with regard to that particular goal.”
Napier said that increased summer use might help move Hogadon away from relying on subsidies from the City for its operations.
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He added that air conditioning would alleviate heat-related safety concerns in the summer.
“Hogadon is being used as a venue to hold weddings and receptions,” reads a memo in Council’s work packet. “The inside this past summer went as high as 85 degrees at weddings this summer. These events host people of all ages including children and elderly. In addition, staff is on-site, cooking. These conditions make heat related illness probable.”
The City suggests that Council budget $104,250 to install air conditioning when they set their fiscal year 2020 budget in May or June.
Napier also told the Council he thought they should include the $315,000 the City wants to set aside to pave Hogadon’s parking lot when they establish the budget.
“We also think that having good parking for at least a portion of the parking lot, not the entire parking spaces up there, makes it a more viable option for year-round use, particularly as it relates to wedding parties with people in nice close trudging through the parking lot,” he said.
Public Services Director Andrew Beamer told the Council that the proposal to pave the parking lot would pave the area closest to the lodge as well as 50 additional parking spaces at Hogadon.
“It creates the entryway around Hogadon and 50 additional spaces, so that we’re in compliance with our own Municipal Code,” Beamer said of the proposed paving project.
He added that paving the area near the lodge would likely alleviate some run-off drainage issues as well.
Napier also raised the issue of the Municipal Code, saying that Hogadon is technically in violation of the City’s rules when it comes to providing off-street parking.
“Parking surfaces shall be covered with concrete or asphalt concrete pavement materials in accordance with the city’s standard specifications for street construction,” chapter 17.12.80 of the Municipal Code reads.
“Temporary parking lot paving materials, including, but not limited to, gravel or rotomill, may be permitted by the city manager, or his designee, for a period of not more than two calendar years. Council may approve a one year extension on the use of temporary paving materials.”
While Casper Mayor Charlie Powell said he agreed with Napier’s point about the need to pave Hogadon so that the City is in compliance with their own Municipal Code, Councilman Chris Walsh expressed some frustration on the topic.
“When we discussed this a couple years ago about the parking lot we have over here, it didn’t seem to be a problem,” Walsh said of the unpaved Goodstein parking lot near The Gaslight Social. “The same conversation came up with Gaslight, and they had an unpaved parking lot and pointed out the same thing.”
“Why do we have to throw out the smokescreen instead of saying if we want a summertime use, it would be beneficial having an area where a person can walk and not go through the mud?”
“When you throw this garbage at me about we’re violating the City ordinance, I know that I have been for the last two years and everybody here is complicit in it. So let’s avoid all that and just call it what it is.”
Walsh said he was not opposed to adding air conditioning or to doing something to make Hogadon more accessible, but pointed out that the money that would go toward paving the parking lot could be used instead to address building deterioration in Casper.
Despite his concerns, Walsh and the other Council members gave thumbs up during the work session to including both the air conditioning and the parking lot projects among the items Council will consider as it works toward establishing the FY 2020 budget.
Council is expected to approve a FY 2020 budget in May or June.