Dueling pianos at David Street Station Aug. 2, 2023. (Calla Shosh, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — As use of David Street Station continues to grow, Casper’s Downtown Development Authority Board believes it’s time to branch off and form a separate nonprofit board, one that would solely operate the outdoor community venue.

While each board would have a different focus, both would retain the common goal of bringing vibrancy and development to Casper’s downtown district.

Over the past 10 years, the Casper Downtown Development Authority has focused primarily on David Street Station. During a recent strategic planning session, DDA Board members questioned whether to split David Street Station into its own 501(c)(3) organization, according to the Downtown Development Authority Board’s 2023 Strategic Plan overview. 

Executive Director Kevin Hawley said rather than dividing one board’s attention 50/50 between two missions, a separate board would be responsible for David Street Station events, activities and funding. 

At the same time, forming a separate nonprofit would allow the DDA Board to continue to work on developing and redeveloping a vital downtown business district.

The DDA is an arm of the City of Casper. Representing property owners within a designated downtown development district, the organization’s primary purpose is to ensure that Casper’s downtown is the best it can be and to bring people to downtown Casper, according to the DDA website. This includes business recruitment, economic development, public relations, advertising and promotions, educational programs, obtaining financial assistance and beautification enhancements. 

In 2017, Phase 1 of David Street Station in downtown Casper’s Old Yellowstone District gave the city its first downtown open public plaza. The venue now includes a splash pad, outdoor ice rink and support building. Past and present events include free live summer concerts, family movie nights, an annual fall festival and a community Christmas tree lighting.

Separation requires legal and financial paperwork to create the nonprofit, a transition committee to set up a new board and start-up budgets and documents, among other actions, according to the strategic plan.

Once the new organization is set up, it would hire its own staff, the document states. 

Hawley expects the process to take more than half a year. The first step is to make a case with the Internal Revenue Service for 501(c)(3) status. 

Then there are financial considerations. David Street Station is privately funded and does not receive tax dollars. It relies solely on sponsorship, donations and grants to operate and bring free events to the community.

According to Hawley, it takes $780,000 to run David Street Station. 

“We need to make sure we’re in a strong fiscal position,” he said. “Our job is to raise sponsorship funds to fulfill our mission to the community.”

With that mission, the separate nonprofit can 100% focus on running David Street Station and its fundraising efforts so that in 30–50 years the venue remains relevant and still moves the community forward, he said. 

The Casper Downtown Development Authority office is located at 139 W. 2nd St., Suite 1-D. Board members are Tim Schenk, Nicholas Grooms, Will Reese, Shawn Houck, Tony Hager, Deb Clark, Kerstin Ellis, Kyle Gamroth and Greg Dixson.