Casper’s Washington Park Proposed Lot Sale Dies At P&Z Commission Meeting
Casper's Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to not rezone a steep, triangular lot at Washington Park during its monthly meeting Thursday.
The decision affirmed the desires of residents who opposed the idea of someone who wanted to buy the lot to build a house, and wanted the commission to designate it "Park Historic."
"It's a special place to people who live here now, and people who lived here before, and people that will be here in the future," said Madonna Conkin, whose house on East 11th Street is near the park.
"'Park Historic' says it all, said Conkin who was among dozens of residents at the meeting. "It's the living room of Casper."
Before the public hearing, Assistant City Manager Liz Becher explained how the city brought the proposal to the commission, which needed to consider a replat because of the odd street configuration, and a rezone from Park Historic to One Unit Residential.
Last year, Becher said City Council asked the development department to identify city-owned properties that could be returned to private ownership. The department identified about 10 properties including the former fire station in Paradise Valley.
Meanwhile, an individual she declined to name asked the city about the triangular lot, which was not among the 10 other properties, she said. It, too, was added to the list.
Regardless of the commission's recommendation, it will go before the City Council for final consideration.
Commission Chairman Bob then opened the public hearing.
No one spoke in favor.
But about 10 people spoke against.
Conkin said she and about 20 others within 300 feet of the lot received a postcard from the city informing them of the proposal. She told others and her son, Kraig, who walked through the park daily when he was in school. Kraig then used the power of social media to tell others.
A former teacher, Conkin said she received messages from former students from New York to California expressing their objections.
Carol Crump presented a petition with 110 signatures urging the commission to deny the request.
Scott Klosterman said he and his family use the park and the rough triangular lot.
Building a house there could affect neighbors with drainage and subsidence problems, Klosterman said.
He also asked this would be in the public interest because Washington Park is the most popular and used park in the city.
Dale Popish, a real estate broker who has worked with steep properties, wondered what a house on that lot would look like, whether residential zoning is the highest and best use of the land, and why someone would want it considering nearby unsold properties have great views, too.
Tracy Lamont said Washington Park is part of a wildlife corridor. "I don't think we need to be disturbing those little old deer."
After the meeting, Conkin said public reaction probably dissuaded the individual wanting the zoning change. "I think he realized he lives in our neighborhood, and realized it wasn't a good way to make neighborhood friends, so he pretty much withdrew his interest."