The Gillette City Council has approved funding that will allow two play areas to be built at a sports complex.
The city is already building three new soccer fields at the Energy Capital Sports Complex to attract more sports competitions like soccer and softball tournaments.
In the same complex, the city will now build a splash park and an inclusive park that is accessible to kids with both cognitive and physical disabilities. The city council approved approximately $2.4 million, which includes building a pump house for the splash park and a public restroom.
The council debated funding the project due to the stress the COVID-19 pandemic has put on the state and local economy. But Gillette Mayor Louise Carter King said the investment can diversify the city's economy long past this moment.
"If we stop progressing because things slow down or they might slow down, we wouldn't get anything done, and that just isn't the Gillette way. We have always moved forward and got the job done," she said at Tuesday's city council meeting.
City Administrator Patrick Davidson said funding for the project comes from a variety of sources, including 1 percent tax funds and a donation from a local group for the park.
Davidson added that some of the funding is from "fee-in-lieu."
"What happened over time is that, as the city has developed and subdivisions were put in, there was a requirement for subdividers to either put in a park within that subdivision that they are building or pay a fee-in-lieu of, setting aside land," he said.
He said that fund is about $350,000, and it will go towards this park as it's an appropriate centralized location. (i don't think you need the quotes here)
Carter-King added the city should support projects like these because they are attractive amenities to companies who may want to locate in Gillette, as the region tries to push for more economic diversification.
"Along with our infrastructure and location near vast natural resources, it will be the amenities we can offer them and their families. The all inclusive park will make a wonderful addition to our city. It will truly be accessible for all residents," she said.
The company that will be handling the construction of the projects said they are prioritizing the need to hire workers from Wyoming.
The council did vote down a proposal to build an additional fourth field to conserve funds after Carter-King asked the council to do so.
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