Over 3,888,949 readers this year!

Casper applying for up to $1M grant as it works to kickstart Washington Park Revival Project

Snow blankets Washington Park as a person and dog walk on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — On Tuesday, the Casper City Council authorized the submission of an application seeking up to $1 million from a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant to support the City of Casper’s Washington Park Revival Project.

The city would be required to provide matching funding for whatever it receives from the grant, up to $1 million, if its grant request is approved. How much it winds up receiving will determine how much the city can invest in the first phase of improvements toward the goal of making Washington Park a “flagship” gathering place in Casper.

“At a minimum, we plan to leverage these funds to double the capital investment at the park,” Zulima Lopez, Casper’s Park, Recreation and Public Facilities director, said in a memo. “Washington Park is not only the City’s most central park, it is also one of the most beloved.”

“However, much of the existing infrastructure needs major renovation or replacement, and expanded and/or new amenities should be added to improve the current recreation experience for park goers, to attract new users, and to expand recreation-oriented economic development opportunities.”

Staff conducted a survey prior to applying for the grant and held two meetings with the community at which people identified the following as the highest priorities at Washington Park, the memo said:

• Adding permanent restrooms

• Adding pickleball courts

• Reconstructing tennis courts

• Renovating the bandshell

•Improving the pool/aquatics offerings

• Improving parking

A phased approach to making improvements at Washington Park has been prepared and recommended by staff, Lopez’s memo added:

Phase I – Baseball lighting replacements, tennis court reconstruction/expansion, pickleball
court construction, parking improvements, ADA restrooms

Phase II – Pool/aquatics improvements, bandshell renovation, pathway/trail improvements,
park lighting

Phase III – Inclusive playgrounds, fully inclusive restrooms (if not achieved in Phase I),
remaining baseball field enhancements, and other miscellaneous improvements supported
by Casper citizens

Prior to Tuesday’s City Council meeting, The City of Casper had $498,410 budgeted for Washington Park to put toward baseball lighting improvements, restrooms and tennis court resurfacing, Lopez’s memo said. If the city doesn’t receive any grant funding, it will start with those improvements until more money becomes available.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund grant dollars the City of Casper is seeking are being distributed through the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, which has about $2.3 million available to support public parks and outdoor recreation projects being conducted by municipalities, counties, school districts, and recreation districts, the memo said. For the city to receive the full $1 million grant it is applying for, the City Council would need to approve a budget of up to $2 million for the project due to the grant being a reimbursement grant.

Staff have also been in discussions with community organizations like the Casper Community Tennis Association, the Rotary Club of Casper and local members of USA Pickleball, and have identified other grant programs that might be able to support the Washington Park Revival Project, Lopez’s memo said.

“Preliminary discussions with those funders have been encouraging,” the memo said.

The full memo on the topic is available below: