Exact SPET ballot language is shown in italics. — Ed.
Cache Creek fix
No. 1. Town of Jackson Downtown Water Quality Improvement Infrastructure — Cache Creek Project
As environmental advocates around Jackson Hole push for cleaner water, this $2 million project would upgrade the stormwater system that carries Cache Creek underground through downtown and into Flat Creek.
The current arrangement, pieced together haphazardly over the past 60 or 70 years, lacks modern-day treatment methods required to filter harmful pollutants from stormwater, Town Manager Larry Pardee said.
“The old system is an eclectic series of different-sized pipes and materials,” he said. “There were no real standards applied, there was no real treatment, and it largely sits on private property.”
The upgrade would include treatment units to filter water according to current best practices, Pardee said. It would also be located within the public right of way.
Construction crews began replacing sections of the tube this summer but have completed only a small portion of the project. The area it encompasses is essentially all of north-central Jackson, from St. John’s Medical Center to the five-way intersection, and north to Dairy Queen.
With the town’s current funding, he said, it would likely take four or five years to finish replacing the tube, prolonging damage to the creeks from harmful chemicals and materials. With SPET funding, Pardee said, the project could be finished in two or three years.
“It’s something we should’ve done many years ago,” Pardee said. “But we have an opportunity.”
Vehicle maintenance shop
No. 2. Core Services Vehicle Maintenance Facility
As Jackson grows, local government increases its level of service to accommodate the population increase. That means more police cars, more fire trucks, more heavy equipment and so on.
“Vehicles are the lifeline that provides the necessary tools for the guys in the field to get their jobs done,” Town Manager Larry Pardee said.
But as the town’s collection of vehicles soars — it’s nearly 300 strong now — the amount of space available for servicing and storing them remains the same. Pardee said he simply needs more room, and the solution he proposes, at $18.5 million, is the second most expensive item on the SPET ballot. He insists it’s worth the cost.
“It’s absolutely imperative that we come up with some new arrangement,” he said. “Our existing fleet shop had never envisioned this level of service.”
The current facility is already strained, Pardee said. Mechanics sometimes have to work outdoors, even in severe weather, or wait until space opens in the shop. That bottleneck “hampers our efficiency,” he said, “which then can affect our emergency services, our snow removal teams, everything. It creates a chain reaction of stoppage.”
Pardee said construction documents are complete for the facility, meaning the town is waiting only for the financial means to break ground.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and money,” he said. “Now it’s having the funding to actually build it.”
No. 3. Teton County Courthouse
Studies show the Teton County Courthouse has major shortcomings in function and security.
So elected officials are seeking $2 million for planning, design, engineering, site preparation and preliminary construction. Some funds may also be used for immediate security improvements to the courthouse.
That would be the first step before renovating or building a new courthouse, which is expected to ultimately cost $36 million for a remodel or up to $60 million for new construction.
“I know it’s a hard sell,” Teton County Facilities Maintenance Manager Paul Cote said. “But this is about basic county function. Courts, law enforcement and dispatch are some of our core functions and some of the county’s most important functions.”
Studies have called the condition of the courthouse “alarming.” Officials did not release the studies due to security concerns.
Built in 1964, the courthouse, at 180 S. King St. hasn’t had any major renovations since 1997.
The building does not meet current standards to withstand earthquakes or comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, officials said. And it’s half the size it should be. The courthouse is 30,000 square feet, while the studies indicate it should be 64,000 square feet.
Elevators aren’t big enough for wheelchairs, hallways leading to restrooms are too narrow, and jury boxes are not ADA accessible, Cote said.
“That just seems fundamentally wrong,” Commissioner Mark Newcomb said.
Aside from space issues, security experts did a walk-through and found safety problems that Cote called serious.
If the design and planning aren’t funded through SPET, Cote isn’t sure where the money will come from.
An alternative idea is exploring state and federal grants. Cote said it would likely take several grants to fund the needed upgrades.
“This can has been kicked down the road before,” Cote said. “But we can’t kick the can forever. The day of reckoning will come.”
Road to Zero Waste
No. 4. “Road to Zero Waste” Infrastructure Improvements at the Teton County Recycling Center and the Teton County Composting Facility
A $2.5 million ballot measure for recycling infrastructure would help Teton County achieve its goal of diverting 60% of waste by 2030, Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling Superintendent Brenda Ashworth said.
“We’ve made the commitment to go to zero waste,” she said. “The next step is building the infrastructure that will allow us to do that.”
The largest chunk of the funding, $1.4 million, will go toward a sorting system for the recycling center.
Currently, everything recycled in bins throughout town is sorted by hand. The new system would do an initial mechanical sort first, which could mean less sorting for the consumer at the drop-off stations.
“It will allow less sorting and increase the public convenience, and then it will also decrease the number of labor hours we use to sort,” Ashworth said.
Another $350,000 would buy a sorting system for food waste as part of a composting program that’s expected to debut in 2020.
The remainder of the funds will buy covered recycling bins for storing materials at the recycling center and a truck scale to weigh recycled loads and increase efficiency.
Wildland firefighting fleet
No. 5. Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Wildland Firefighting Apparatus Replacement
Jackson Hole’s wildland firefighting engines were manufactured between 1970 and 1985.
Jackson Hole Fire/EMS is requesting SPET funds to buy four new trucks to “defend our community against wildland fire.” The vehicles are estimated to cost $400,000 each, for a total of $1.6 million.
“Our current fleet cannot be operated by many of our volunteer firefighters who lack the strength or knowledge to drive these old manual steering, manual transmission, commercial vehicles,” the SPET request states.
Replacement parts to maintain the vehicles are often not available, and the trucks can’t be driven over Teton Pass because of “safety concerns, primarily related to the braking system.”
If the trucks are filled to the brim with water, they are too heavy to navigate Teton Pass.
“Jackson Hole Fire/EMS is responsible to protect our community against the risk of fire,” the proposal states.
New engines will make it safer to drive on steep terrain, possible to carry more water and faster to respond to fires, firefighters said.
Gregory Lane upgrades
No. 6. Gregory Lane — Street, Stormwater and Sewer Infrastructure, and Safe Route to School
With no sidewalks and no stormwater treatment, Gregory Lane and its surroundings leave much to be desired.
Town Manager Larry Pardee aims to improve the neighborhood, which he called “one of the most distressed areas” in Jackson, with $8.5 million in SPET funding. That would augment funds he has already set aside to install stormwater treatment systems and construct sidewalks down the main road, which many children and their parents walk to get to the nearby schools.
“It’s a highly unfortunate place we’re at,” Pardee said. “It’s not safe, it’s not fair, and it’s a complicated matter to solve because of the cost and the lack of space.”
One tricky aspect of the project will be obtaining permission from landowners to build the sidewalks and stormwater systems. Much of the land the town will need to work on is private property, and the necessary easements will be expensive.
But with the potential for pollutants to enter Flat Creek untreated, and with the welfare of at least 100 children in the area at stake, Pardee said he’s eager to enhance the neighborhood.
“We believe it’s too important not to do it,” he said. “Too important to the environment, too important to the whole school, to Gregory Lane, and to the southwest corner of Jackson.”
No. 7. Community Housing Opportunities
In the unending struggle to house local workers in Teton County, officials are looking to SPET for support.
They’re seeking $5.5 million from taxpayers to go toward building housing and purchasing deed restrictions to ensure housing goes to the workforce. It’s unclear how and where the money would be used, but it would be placed in a designated housing supply fund. Both the Town Council and Board of County Commissioners would then have to sign off on any use of the money.
That funding would be a welcome boost to local government’s resources for housing, as the town and county strive to provide it for 65% of people who work in the valley. But after months of inaction on a controversial housing project at 440 W. Kelly, elected officials acknowledge that voters may be wary of handing over more public funding.
Some who live near the property in question — which last summer was rezoned for higher housing density — have opposed the project on the grounds that it will ruin the neighborhood’s character, leaving officials split over how to proceed and effectively stalling the project.
If the town and county have so far failed to make any progress at West Kelly, the argument goes, that may not bode well for their ability to agree on how to handle future projects. But others say this may be only a slow start as officials search for the best way to address the housing shortage through the new high-density zoning in town.
Home for history museum
No. 8. History Museum Building — Genevieve Block
After the Jackson Hole Land Trust successfully raised $7 million to “save the block” at 135 E. Broadway this summer, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum is asking voters for $4.4 million to move its operations to the block shared with Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery and Healthy Being Juicery.
The SPET funding would cover half the project cost, matched by fundraising and the sale of the North Cache building, said Morgan Jaouen, executive director of the Historical Society and Museum.
“Without this opportunity, the future of our organization and our archive and our collection is uncertain,” Jaouen said. “This is a way to create a lasting and really exciting, purpose-built museum for our community.”
The funding would go toward moving two or three historic cabins to the site as well as construction of a new, larger museum building. The construction will have to conform with Land Trust easements designed to protect the block’s character.
“The community showed up to protect this block,” Jaouen said. “The community has said we value historic preservation, the character of this block, the green space. I think it’s so cool that the Historical Society can be there to dive deeper and help interpret that, help explore people’s draw to that.”
Jaouen said the stability of land ownership is essential for the museum in the long term. Though the museum operates out of a North Cache building that was purchased with SPET dollars, it doesn’t own the dirt under that building. It’s losing its Mercill property to an affordable housing project, and its Deloney property can be used only for summer programs.
Rec Center expansion
No. 9. Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center Expansion and Renovation, Community Climbing Gym, King Street Extension, and Stormwater Treatment
An indoor track, climbing gym and exercise equipment rooms are a sampling of what $22 million in SPET funding would buy in an expansion of the Teton County/Jackson Recreation Center.
“Basically since the day we opened, we’ve been asked for more and more facilities to be provided. We are at our capacity,” Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Ashworth said. “We can’t host a lot of the programs and things people want.”
Also in the plans are an outdoor aquatic splash pad, multipurpose fitness studios, two community health consultation rooms, a drop-in day care facility with an outdoor playground, a study lounge, a birthday party and event room, and outdoor climbing boulders.
The Rec Center improvements are the most expensive item on the ballot. Part of the reason for the higher price tag, Ashworth said, is that the improvements have been postponed for 20 years.
“In a way it’s time to pull the Band-Aid off and move forward,” he said.
Ashworth said 65% of residents are regular users of the Rec Center.
“When we look at what you get and the quantity of stuff the community gets, and the diversity, it touches everybody in the community,” he said.
Funding would also go toward extending King Street through the Rec Center site, connecting the pathway to the north Highway 89 pathway, enclosing the recycling facility and stormwater improvements.
“The site is very inefficient,” Ashworth said. “We have parking issues, we have circulation issues, we have stormwater issues.”
No. 10. Wildlife Crossings
Wildlife-vehicle collisions on Teton County roads are on the rise. Biologists say the strikes are starting to have a population-level impact on species like moose.
The idea is to pair over- and underpasses with fencing that funnels animals to safe crossing points, improving safety for motorists and reducing threats to wildlife.
“Wildlife is a No. 1 community value,” County Engineer Amy Ramage said. “Wildlife crossing efforts address both a human safety element and biological connectivity. We’re trying to weave together a solution that helps both humans and animals.”
The first $2 million would go toward two underpasses at the junction of Highway 22 and Highway 390, one just east of the intersection and the other just north of the intersection on 390.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is funding another two at that location, and they’d all be built as part of WYDOT’s scheduled reconstruction of the Snake River bridge and intersection in 2023.
“The primary species of concern at that location is moose,” Ramage said, “but actually it’s really intended to serve moose, elk and deer.”
The second priority would be funding plans for an overpass at the area around Teton Science Schools’ Journeys campus and Bar Y, over a four-lane highway as WYDOT moves to expand Highway 22.
Remaining funds would go toward planning for other sites outlined in the Teton County Wildlife Crossings Master Plan.