Bitter Creek/Killpecker Creek

Bitter Creek

ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs City Council unanimously gave the go-ahead Tuesday to apply for a grant to fund part of the Bitter Creek Restoration Project.

The grant from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Abandoned Mine Land Division assists communities in mitigating the impacts of historical coal mining. If approved, money would go toward phase one of the project, which would start at the portion just behind the Plaza Mall and run upstream to the park area that was donated by the Cy Rahonce family. The work would include adding a walking bridge across the creek channel that would tie into the city’s walking/bike path from the Belt Route to the proposed park and continue on to Dewar Drive, Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo said before the meeting.

Mayor Kaumo, Councilmen David Tate, Tim Savage, Billy Shalata, Keaton West, Rob Zotti, and David Halter and Councilwomen Glennise Wendorf and Jeannie Demas voted in favor of sending the application.

“It is a project that the city needs to go forward with that has been overlooked for a while,” Demas said.

The first phase is projected to cost about $10.92 million. The city’s requesting grant funding to cover $9.83 million. If the entire request is approved, then the $1.09 million difference would come from leftover funding from the 2012 special purpose tax.

TIME TO GET SOMETHING DONE

Zotti said work on the Bitter Creek is something the council has been working on for about 15 years, starting in Kaumo’s first administration.

“We have tried many avenues for funding and always seem to come up short,” Zotti said. “Getting the funds to start the Bitter Creek project phase one would help to advance our goal of improving the quality of water that runs down the creek, as well as help greatly advance our beautification efforts around the city.

“Growing up in Rock Springs we’ve all heard comments about the poor water quality of Bitter Creek and how it’s been used as a dumping ground in the past. It’s a complete eyesore for Rock Springs. We’ll never have a waterway like Green River coming through our town, but we should do the best we can to improve and take pride in what we do have. The creek has been neglected for far too long. It’s been a long process, we’ve done studies and made plans, it’s time we get something done.”

Other council members said they are glad the city will apply for the money.

“I am glad we are taking this step and hope the grant is approved,” Tate said. “We have worked for many years on this project and, hopefully, the DEQ will award the grant for Bitter Creek so we can finally get started on its restoration.”

The funding would only cover a portion of the whole project, which also entails {span}repairing a 1920s-era levee by Pearl Park and removing Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain designations on area properties.{/span}

Shalata said he hopes state and local representatives “will help us more in getting it done.”

Rep. Stan Blake, D-Green River, told the City Council during a public hearing on the grant that he would support the city applying for funds, adding that “anything I can do in my title, please let me know.”

“If that’s not an AML project, I don’t know what is,” he said.

Shalata agreed.

“The AML should have seen that this is a project that is viable,” he said.

If the grant is approved, Kaumo said work could begin right away as the design was completed years ago and is ready to go.

“There will be some need to acquire some small portions of property for the project, which will need to be appraised and negotiated,” he said. “This work could begin immediately once we find out if we have approval for the grant.”

For more information on the grant, go to deq.wyoming.gov/aml/resources/aml-public-facilities.

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