SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council met for a strategic planning session Monday to update new council members on the priorities identified by the previous council and allow those new members to weigh in on the city’s efforts to address those priorities.
Northern Wyoming Community College District Planning Director Robert Briggs facilitated the discussion and said the object of the session was to focus council’s efforts, as their time and resources are limited.
Returning members of council offered brief summaries of goals the previous council had identified in its strategic plan, and council discussed its thoughts on those items moving forward.
Councilor Richard Bridger updated council on the city’s efforts to tackle the shortage of workforce housing in the city. Councilors agreed that framing the issue with terms like “affordable” and “attainable” housing created misunderstandings as those qualities are relative to each person. Instead, Bridger said the city is exploring ways to facilitate the creation of a more diverse housing market, both in terms of housing prices and types of housing.
City officials and community members attended a conference in Lander over the summer where they explored ways to expand the city’s housing stock. Following the meeting, the local attendees formed a “housing action team” to discuss ways the community can collaborate to develop a more diverse housing market. One of the first initiatives to come out of that group is a code audit, which the city is using to assess building codes and regulations that could potentially drive up building costs. Council is expecting results from that audit in May.
Councilor Patrick Henderson also suggested the city explore partnerships to create more workforce education programs, noting that a more educated workforce can command higher salaries and afford more expensive housing. Councilor Jacob Martin added that partnering with community groups to offer and highlight financial education programs could encourage better planning and more saving among city residents.
East Fifth Street Corridor
Mayor Roger Miller said the city has discussed making improvements to the East Fifth Street entryway for a long time, but the discussions have mostly been conceptual to this point. With work winding down on the North Main Street Corridor, Miller said the council could begin exploring more concrete plans to improve the Fifth Street entryway. In particular, he noted that trees and sidewalks in the park between the interstate and the city’s Railroad District are old and could be refurbished to improve the appearance of the entryway.
Miller also said council had previously discussed building a monument somewhere along that corridor to try to attract more drivers from the interstate into town.
Councilors Aaron Linden and Martin questioned the need for extensive improvements along the corridor.
However, Henderson said the city should explore upsizing utilities — like water lines — along the corridor to prepare the area should it eventually be used to build more housing. Linden agreed that expanding the utilities in the area would benefit the city in the long term.
Parks and Recreation Master Plan
The city has hired consultants to conduct an overview of the city’s parks and recreation system, suggest improvements and project the operations and maintenance costs of those improvements. The consultants have conducted community focus groups thus far, and City Administrator Mark Collins said the consultants are preparing a survey to be sent out to the community in the coming months.
Once the consultants have received the community’s feedback, they will compile a report with recommendations for the city.
103 North Gould Street Property
The city purchased the downtown property that C and C Tires used to occupy in June and have converted the parking lot into public parking. Henderson said the lot has seen plenty of use, particularly by employees of downtown businesses, which has freed up customer parking on the street. However, the old building still sits on the lot and council discussed potential uses for the building. Council recently authorized an assessment of the structure and safety of the building to get a sense of what it would cost to both maintain it and refurbish it for occupation. Henderson said the city had previously discussed using the building to consolidate all of the local economic development organizations under one roof, but noted there are several other potential uses.
Collins also said the city plans to explore additional minor improvements to the parking lot, like improved lighting and better directional signs.