The City of Casper will make a final appeal to a state agency next week for a $500,000 grant for the rehabilitation of a half-mile segment of the North Platte River, according to a news release from the Wyoming Business Council.

Two weeks ago, the Business Council's board of directors did not recommend the grant request from the Casper City Council, nor did it give any reasons for the denial.

However, the denial of the community enhancement grant did not end the process.

State law requires the Wyoming Business Council to forward all requests, whether approved by it or not, to the State Loan and Investment Board for final approval. The SLIB is comprised of the five statewide elected officials: the governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and state superintendent of public instruction.

For 13 years, the city has been rehabilitating the river and its banks. The first two phases have improved habitat for fish and in turn water quality, stabilized the banks, and moved the river by 80 feet near Morad Park, which in turn saved Wyoming Boulevard from being washed out, Assistant City Manager Jolene Martinez has said.

In the past, the Business Council has granted and won approval from the SLIB for two $500,000 grants for the river restoration, Martinez told the Amoco Reuse Agreement Joint Powers Board in April. The city made a similar request for this phase, but the council wanted a further commitment from the community, hence the $200,000 request from the ARAJPB in April.

The next phase will enhance channel form and function, improve fish and wildlife habitat, stabilize eroding banks, improve passive treatment of storm water, and improve aesthetics immediately downstream from the former BP-Amoco refinery site to the BNSF bridge.
The project also would buy property and construct a boat dock at the river's intersection with West B Street.
After the WBC turned down the request two weeks ago, Martinez said the project still will get underway on Oct. 1 as long as the river flow is about 500 cubic feet per second.

But construction of the boat ramp, parking lot, and park structures will not proceed until the city obtains other funding, she said.

Besides the decision about the river rehabilitation project earlier this month, the Business Council approved a $2.3 million request from the Town of Alpine for upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant. The SLIB also will consider that.

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