Some councilors are concerned about the pace of the Casper Business Center design process; complete set of usage plan

Casper City Council approved the purchase of the Casper Business Center at a special meeting in late April. (Brendan LaChance, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. – Casper City Council bought the Casper Business Center for $ 8 million in the spring, with the intention of eventually turning the building into a police headquarters and other city services headquarters.

In May, the City Council approved a $ 2,061,978 contract with the Police Facility Design Group for the Kansas City Architecture Company to begin design work to renovate the interior of the building. Before the design work progresses, however, the company needs a clear direction on the city’s full plans to use the space, City Director Carter Napier told City Hall on Tuesday.

Although most of the building will be occupied by the Casper Police Department, the full use plan includes transporting the Public Safety Communication Center, the Municipal Court, the Fire-EMS administration and the Information Technology to the Casper Business Center, Napier said.

A large portion of them have been part of the council’s plan since the acquisition was announced in April, but it’s a newer part of the IT mix. It makes sense to move IT to the Casper Business Center, working closely with the Police Department and the shipping department, according to Napier.

Moving the computer would also have the advantage of freeing up space and thus reducing some renovation needs in the City Hall, the city official added. The City has put $ 2.6 million into renovations at City Hall in a facility built in 1978, but the City decided in the spring to continue the project after returning bids from five construction companies at a cost of $ 6 million.

The training space for police and firefighters is expected to be part of the design of the Casper Business Center, Napier said.

Councilor Lisa Engebrets asked if there were any plans to move the implementation of the Code to the Casper Business Center. This idea was explored, but by working closely with Code Development Community Development, it will remain in the City Hall, Napier replied.

Councilman Bruce Knell asked about moving the City Attorney’s Office to the Casper Business Center. While there will be room for prosecutors and public defenders at the Casper Business Center, the City Attorney’s Office is working hard with the City Office of Office Managers and Community Development, according to Wallace Trembath, Deputy City Attorney.

When asked by Jai-Ayla Southerland if there were any other services she thought would go to Casper Business Center, Napier replied that the Casper Business Center’s parking lot is spacious and thought of moving all services that interact frequently with the public. . However, it was decided that this would hardly help save a lot of money on the redevelopment of the City Hall and may not provide better services to the citizens, Napier said.

The Casper Business Center plans also take into account the anticipated space needs as the Police Department, the Municipal Court, and IT grow in the future:

(City of Casper)

Councilor Amber Pollock questioned whether future space needs were projected solely on the basis of projected population growth or whether there were other factors. Population growth was a factor beyond industry standards, Napier said.

The Police Facility Design Group conducted a needs assessment for the Casper Police Department in 2018 to help determine space needs. Police Chief Keith McPheeters said one of the things that could lead to more space for the Police Department in the future is the rise of digital crime. Although the department has a person assigned to digital crime, it is not expected to be suitable for 2030, McPheeters said.

According to Napier, the renovation of the building does not include the immediate reconstruction of office space.

Regardless of whether the services go to the Casper Business Center, Knell said it is essential that he believes the mix includes delivery in addition to the Police Department, “which is what we have sold to the public.”

Napier said Tuesday’s training session could take a year to complete and approve the design process before construction begins.

Knell wondered if there was a way to speed up that timeline.

“Can we move a little faster?” he asked. “Why do we have to wait a year to design?”

It’s a one-year conservative calculation, with the Police Facility Design Group reporting that the design work could be completed in six to eight months, Napier said.

Knell said the concern is that the slower the design process, the higher the construction costs the city can have in terms of inflation. Napier said he shares those concerns.

Councilman Steve Cathey, who was working with Knell on the committee working to find a solution to a new police headquarters, reminded Knell that an architect had informed the committee of the bidding and design process. Cathey said his understanding was that the project could take three years to complete construction. If there’s a way to speed up the process, Cathey said he’d like it to happen too.

Knell said his understanding would take the entire process two and a half years at most.

“Anyway, that’s it,” he said.

The council expressed its approval on Tuesday with the full City Council use plan for the Casper Business Center, which should allow design work to proceed. The actual design of the space is likely to see some adaptations to what the council is proposing due to the complexity of the project, city staff said. This report contains more details on what the City Council is proposing.

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