The Wyoming Army National Guard is preparing to relocate a vehicle maintenance facility to Sheridan
The Wyoming Military Department has announced plans to relocate a military vehicle maintenance facility from its current location in Lovell to a site north of Sheridan. This has been met with concern among some area residents, namely those who live off Soldier Creek Road northwest of the city.
Keith Marcott is one of those residents. He said that he feels that the National Guard has tried to keep public information about their plans to a minimum.
“The Adjutant General for the Guard sent out, or at least his office sent out, a notice of a project as well as an announcement that they were having a public meeting slash open house. We received that letter on the twenty-eighth of January and the meeting was scheduled for the second of February,” Marcott said. “And so, my first concern was that this seemed like a pretty big deal, and I was kind of taken aback that they were giving what amounted to two business days’ notice of a meeting.”
Marcott, now retired, said that his career as a geologist and former owner of Trihydro, the largest environmental engineering company in the state, gave him insight into the workings of the federal government and how projects such as a vehicle maintenance facility are managed publicly.
“I sent them a note at that time, as well I know several other people did the same, saying, ‘Hey, this doesn’t seem like adequate notice to tell us you’re building an industrial facility in our residential neighborhood,” Marcott said. “What they actually said was ‘We don’t actually have to tell you anything because it’s our property [of the Wyoming Military Department].’”
Though he was absent from the meeting due to having made previous plans out-of-state before the seeing the meeting notice, Marcott said attendees were not allowed to ask questions afterwards but were allowed to speak with National Guard officials one-on-one. He also claims that because the discussions weren’t in writing, National Guard officials weren’t required to add them to the official public comments on the proposed facility.
Additional concerns Marcott said he has center on the any potential impacts that the facility will have on residential neighborhoods, if traffic levels will increase, and how it could generally impact residents along Soldier Creek Road.
“[It] just seemed to me and pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to in our neighborhood that maybe it hasn’t been that well thought out,” Marcott said. “They’ve got other options. I just keep scratching my head and wondering how they come to choose these locations.”
There have a few sites that have been considered for the proposed relocation.
“There were three parcels of land [and] of those parcels, we had sites one and two along the Soldier Creek Road,” said Lt. Col. James Ezell, Construction and Facilities officer for the Wyoming Military Department. “Those two parcels have been eliminated. [However], we’re still going through the process of site selection.”
Increased efficiency is one of the reasons why the maintenance facility is being relocated.
“What happened is we had some structure changes within the state, and so it was going to be a lot more advantageous for the units that we have in the state to move that vehicle maintenance from Lovell to Sheridan,” said Ezell. “One of the things we didn’t want to do was to drive our vehicles through the [Bighorn] Basin. That’s a lot more windshield time and [there were] some safety concerns, especially during the winter.”
Ezell said that no large military vehicles, such as tanks, would be maintained at the Sheridan facility and that there would be no significant increase in traffic in residential areas.
“It’s really smaller vehicles, two-and-a-half tons and smaller, and the traffic wouldn’t really be that heavy,” Ezell said. “It wouldn’t be traffic going on 24/7, it would only be a light vehicle presence that would only be during certain parts of the day. The traffic through the community would be a very, very minimal impact, if any at all.”
Though the Wyoming Military Department owns property, Ezell said that it’s a possibility that they would purchase property on which to place the facility. He said some of what they’re currently looking at is state-owned land.
“The goal was to be good neighbors for the City of Sheridan,” Ezell said. “And so that was kind of the process we took is to consolidate the vehicle maintenance shop with the units that are going to be supported there in Sheridan.”
Ezell said a meeting will be scheduled once a site has been finalized to answer any questions and respond to any concerns that the public may have. He also said construction is set to begin in 2023 and last approximately two years.