At Tuesday's city council work session, the City of Casper was presented a $100,000 grant by the Natrona County Recreation Joint and Power Board, which will go towards creating a 'Parks and Recreation Master Plan.'

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It was asked by the city, that the council approve the acceptance of the grant, which will serve as half of the amount needed to create and implement the plan.

Zulima Lopez, the Director of the Natrona County Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities, along with some of her team members, presented her plan and how to make it happen.

"The Recreation Center is bustling all throughout the year," Lopez stated. "There isn't really a time when there aren't activities going on...a lot of the recreation enterprises align very closely with the school district and what they're doing and of course recreation is no different."

Lopez then presented a recap of the 2022 Fiscal Year for the Rec Center.

According to Lopez, the Rec Center has 397 memberships and 6,115 daily admissions. The Rec Center offers 139 classes with 2,883 participants. They put on various events throughout the year, including an annual Beach Day, a volleyball tournament, a Fall Carnival, the Casper Youth Basketball Tournament, the Casper Coed Volleyball Tournament, and more.

But, she argued, they could be doing more.

"Having a great parks and recreation system is the hallmark of a vibrant community," a memo to Casper City Manager from Lopez stated. "The development of a trule effective parks and recreation system, however, requires strategic planning, analysis, and collaboration. A parks and recreation master plan is a comprehensive, long range strategy for the creation, optimization, and maintenance of a community's leisure assets, programs, and services."

Lopez said that part of the master plan would include hiring a consultant to review all of the amenities throughout town and figure out how best to invest in these amenities in the future.

"In order to approach parks and recreation in a fiscally responsible way, we must have a comprehensive, yet flexible plan for the long-term development, use, and maintenance of recreation infrastructure and services," the memo stated. "In the absence of a pan, decision-making can be reactive and impulsive rather than strategic and intentional."

In November of 2022, the City of Casper applied to the Natrona County Recreation and Joint Powers Board (NCRJPB) for a one hundred thousand dollar grant to assisting in funding this Park and Recreation Master Plan. The City presented its application request to the board on January 6, 2023 and the grant request was approved on January 9, 2023. Now, City of Casper staff are asking the City Council to approve the acceptance of this grant.

The memo states that the full Parks and Recreation Master Plan will cost approximately $200,000.

"The NCRJPB grant provides $100,000 that will be released in the fiscal year 2024 upon proof of matching funds."

Lopez notes that the Parks and Rec facility is hoping for interagency collaboration on this project, partnering with agencies such as the City of Casper, Visit Casper, Natrona County, the Natrona County School District, and more.

The memo noted that it is hoped that "surrounding cities and towns can develop plans, exchange ideas, and identify opportunities to share resources."

The city offered its support and will issue its formal approval at an upcoming city council meeting.

A copy of the memo can be read below. Video from the Casper City Council work session can also be viewed below:


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