ROCK SPRINGS—While the plan to relocate downtown Rock Springs involves moving the downtown area out of the flood plain and creating land space for residential, commercial and municipal buildings, Flood Recovery Committee Chairman Jamie Busser said the main focus at this point in the recovery process is “working on the tax base.”
That includes creating land for a bar/restaurant and commercial businesses to “anchor the whole uptown,” he during a Feb. 14 flood recovery committee meeting.
The village’s flood recovery committee shared its overall concept plans and heard public input from community members by hosting two meetings Feb. 9 and 14.
The main idea the flood recovery shared at the meeting included setting aside land for an investor to build a bar and restaurant in the village. One option is giving the lot where the village fire station currently sits to a potential investor to convert it into a restaurant. The village is also talking about potentially purchasing land on Railroad Street for an investor to construct a restaurant.
“At that point, our recommendation would be for the village to give this lot to whoever wants to build on it and go from there,” Busser said.
During the recent round of floods, the village had 27 feet of water rush through. The 2008 floods had about one foot less of flood waters and as a result the village lost about 90 residents. Around the time of both floods the village had two restaurants in the downtown area: the Coach House and Flood Zone Bar and Grill. After the recent round of floods, the owner of the Coach House has decided to close permanently. The Flood Zone Bar and Grill remains closed.
For municipal property the plan includes the village purchasing a four acre lot on Railroad Street to build a 50 by 200 foot building that would host a library, dining space, kitchen, storage areas and a three bay truck area for fire and village services. Another option, Busser said is the village is talking with the Town of Excelsior on potentially moving its village office into the town hall office.
Three acres are being considered for commercial businesses along East Broadway Street, that is already zoned for commercial use. Maps and concept designs of a 5,600 square foot bar/restaurant and FEMA maps of the villages plan to relocate commercial and residential housing lined the wall of the fire station for the public to see.
While Busser said some work has been done on the residential side in relocating its downtown to higher ground, the main focus right now is coming up with commercial businesses. He said a lot of the residential areas would depend on access to sewer, water and utility components. A lot of the relocating will also depend on costs and if community block development grants or FEMA money is available.
The flood recovery committee meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the village fire station.
The community center could possibly be saved, however a lot will depend on costs. The building currently sits in the flood way and remains closed due to flood damage.
Busser said he’s met with DNR representatives to talk about options for the community center, which also held the village office and library. Busser said he was presented with four options: tear it down, move it to another location, flood proof it and keep it at its current location, or selling it to a private party.
Busser said during the meeting, he didn’t see the village potentially moving the building due to the $120,000 price tag, not including foundation costs, gas, electric, and new bathrooms would have to be constructed.
During the meeting, Busser said the best options are to flood proof the building and keeping it where it is at 101 South 1st Broadway Street or sell it to a potential buyer. If the village were to flood proof it Busser said the basement would have to be abandoned. Two properties between the community center and by St. John’s Lutheran Church would have to be purchased to build a flood wall around the building and new construction efforts on the second floor would have to take place on the inside.
If the building is sold, Busser said the building would still have to be flood proofed. He said the committee will continue conversations about the fate of the community center at future meetings.
“We’ve got to look at all of these options to see which is the more fiscally responsible thing to do,” Busser said.