Parks building and Employee housing project, complete

JACKSON, Wyo. — Parks and Recreation Director Steve Ashworth officially cut the ribbon at the new parks building and housing project on West Snow King Ave on Oct. 14, marking the opening of the building. Commissioner Natalia Macker and Councilman Jim Stanford were present at the event.

The new building on West Kelly Avenue. Photo: Lindsay Vallen // Buckrail

The new building will house the Parks shop, including offices and a large garage for equipment, on the ground floor. A $350,000 lift was installed to utilize the basement area of the building for long-term seasonal equipment storage. Prior to this new space being finished, the parks division was forced to store equipment outside, shortening the lifespan of machinery and causing crews to spend a portion of winter mornings digging out equipment before being able to begin working. The second and third floors have been built to provide 25 housing units to town and county employees.

The new parks equipment garage. Photo: Lindsay Vallen // BuckrAIL

The second floor has nine one bedroom, one bathroom, unfurnished units, each at 560 square feet. The rental rate is $1177 per month, including utilities. These units have one-year leases, for up to three years. After three years, tenants can reapply in the general pool. “It’s transitional, its a landing spot, it’s a transitional home,” said Ashworth. 

There is also one 200 sq. ft. “bunk room”, intended to lodge town and county employees who need a place to stay during unforeseen circumstances that may keep employees who live out of the area, from making it home.

The dorm-style studio apartments located on the 3rd floor come furnished for $800/month. Photo: Lindsay Vallen // Buckrail

The third floor has 16, 250 sq. ft. dorm-style studios for $800 per month including utilities. Each unit is fully furnished with a bathroom, mini-fridge, and microwave. There is a shared common area, fully stocked kitchen, and laundry room on the floor. These units are intended for season employees, like START bus drivers, and summer interns. They are structured with 6-month leases, based upon job requirements.

There is one, one-bedroom unit, on the second floor that is ADA accessible, every unit on the 3rd floor can be adapted to ADA compliances. 

The town was responsible for 45% of the project expenses, and the county was responsible for 55% of the project. A 2017 SPET was approved to cover $2.9 million of the costs.

The property is owned by the town but will be managed by the Housing Department. “On the one-bedrooms, the county has employee first rights for 4 units and the town has 5.” Ashworth said, adding, “The town has a first preference for all 16 units for the winter because the town needs them for START bus employees.” 

“Right now we are 100% occupied…everything is booked for this winter, people start moving in tomorrow [Oct. 15] and we have the rest of them moving in November 1st,” said Ashworth. 

The project had its share of challenges, with budget overruns and eight months late on completion. The initial estimate for the project was roughly $6.9 million. During a June 15, 2020, special Town Council workshop meeting, the issues were blamed on unforeseen expenses from the contractor, Record Steel and Construction Inc, and the architect, Dubbe Moulder Architects. Both entities were chosen based on being the lowest bidders. The final cost of the project was $330 per square foot, totaling about $8.4 million.

More housing is intended to replace the building and green space. Photo: Lindsay Vallen // Buckrail

The old Parks building, built-in 1979, will still be used for equipment maintenance projects until the second phase can begin. A new maintenance garage is planned to be added to the west side of the building. The old building, located just across the parking lot from the new building, will eventually become a housing project,  “The plan is three eight-plexus, so three buildings, four units, four two bedrooms, and then four two bedrooms on top of it.“ said Steve Ashworth, Parks and Recreation Director. Ashworth explained that this housing project would be geared towards longterm living, rather than the short term model at West Snow King Ave.

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