New Amenities Enhance Sweetwater County Communities
Community adds amenities, re-habs historic buildings
Lots of creative planning bore fruit in 2014-15, as Rock Springs and Green River both continued to enhance the quality of life for their citizens.
Police Headquarters, Aquatic Center
Green River saw a new police department headquarters and municipal court emerge from an unfinished building police chief Chris Steffen remembers as “a concrete and steel skeleton” when the city bought it in 2011.
The new facility on Flaming Gorge Way, which opened in September 2014, is nearly 26,000 square feet – a big jump from the cramped 4,300 square feet Steffen’s department occupied in its previous headquarters. The $4.6 million building now provides ample space for staff, privacy for interviews with victims of crime (once held in the lobby of the city hall building), vastly expanded evidence storage options, expanded parking and more.
“Ultimately it’s for the purpose of serving the public,” Steffen says. “In the old facility we had a lot of issues trying to address people’s needs, but now we can provide a lot better care for citizens and victims of crimes.”
Also in Green River, a new aquatic center opened in fall 2014 at Green River High School, where it will serve as a training and competition center for students. The 32,000-square-foot facility will also be open to the community. The center offers three pools for swimming, diving and therapy, locker rooms and a wet classroom. It will accommodate 650 spectators, a plus for a community with a strong history of excellence in student aquatics.
Rock Springs Re-use
Two downtown landmark buildings in Rock Springs are seeing new life as much-needed community assets.
Bunning Hall at the Freight Station is adaptive reuse at its best. Once a transfer station where goods were offloaded from trains to wagons and trucks, the 1917 building on South Main was donated to the city by the local Bunning family. After a $1.4 million renovation, it now serves as headquarters for the city’s Urban Renewal Agency (URA) and a busy community gathering center.
“It’s perfect for downtown events like a winter farmers market, craft and trade shows, weddings, large meetings and art shows,” says URA Manager Chad Banks. “We have a few smaller meeting spaces in town, but nothing this size.”
The hall’s interior is a big part of its charm, complete with vintage graffiti, some antiques and the names of local businesses that once used the transfer station painted above the arched delivery-bay doors. With a capacity of up to 220 people, it is already proving to be a popular venue for a variety of events, Banks says.
The former Rock Springs National Bank building on Broadway and B Street has undergone its own transformation. The once-vacant, but well-maintained, structure reopened in early 2015, and now houses Sweetwater County Health and Human Services offices that had previously been located around the city.
“It’s a great use of a building that had been vacant but was in great shape,” Banks says. “It’s brought new life to that part of downtown and brought 46 employees and all their clients and constituents downtown, creating new activity in that area.”