Casper City Council has taken another step toward the possible development of a $50 million hotel and conference center in downtown Casper.

Council narrowly approved a $315,000 purchase of property located off South David St. on Tuesday night.

The resolution was approved by a 5-4 margin. Mayor Kenyne Schlager, along with councilmen Pete Meyer, Bob Hopkins, Paul Bertoglio and Charlie Powell voted in favor of the purchase. Councilmen Daniel Sandoval, Craig Hedquist, Steve Cathey and Keith Goodenough voted against the purchase.

Schlager says the purchase was critical for the city if council wants to move forward with the conference center plan.

“I’m still not entirely sure that council, in the long run, as a body, will be in favor of moving all the way forward with the conference center,” Schlager said. “The good news about this piece of property is that, should that happen, we’ll have a piece of property that the city of Casper could possibly use, or we could sell it.”

Craig Hedquist voted against the purchase, citing construction and information-related concerns. Hedquist says city officials failed to give him accurate information regarding the purchase itself and the actual value of the property.

Hedquist also says that he’s concerned certain council members and city officials are trying to push the conference center plan through while public support remains limited.

“I’ve actually done a survey of the Ward II voters – I don’t think that they have the support to do it, and I think they want it bad enough that they don’t care that it hasn’t been well thought out or planned,” Hedquist said. “I have huge concerns – nobody in the private sector would do this.”

The city will use money from its general fund to fund the purchase.