Feasibility study for Heritage Park complete

Hannah Gross, NLJ Correspondent

Tallgrass Landscape Architecture LLC, of Custer, South Dakota, has completed a feasibility study for the proposed Heritage Park near Pinnacle Bank. 

Mike Fridell of Tallgrass presented the study, displaying the park design, maintenance, cost estimations and economic impact, to Newcastle City Council at a recent meeting. The cost of the study was $25,000, mainly funded by a grant from the Wyoming Business Council. The remaining 20%, or $5,000, will be matched by the city.  The council approved moving ahead with the park project at its meeting.  

“We have the full support of the council to pursue this. …They feel that it is a project worth looking at and going after,” said Dave Ehlers,
a member of the feasibility study steering

According to the study, the concept plan for the park is estimated at $3.5 million, excluding the value of the land. The land will be donated by Pinnacle Bank and is estimated to be valued between $200,000 and $250,000. 

“It’s quite a gesture for Pinnacle Bank to be doing that,” Ehlers said.

The next step to making Heritage Park a reality is to secure funding. Ehlers said the steering committee will be meeting soon to discuss where to find those funds. At this time, the city has not offered any funding, but Ehlers said it is premature to request money until grants are solidified.

“The City Council has shown their desire to pursue this project, and it is the job of the committee to seek the funds to continue with the development,” Ehlers said. “Once funding is secured, we would move into the bidding
and awarding phase and then finally the build-ing phase.”

Ehlers is frequently asked when the park will be completed, but without funding in place, he said, it is difficult to determine.

Ehlers added that the committee is looking into multiple grant options that would best fit the needs of the park with the “smallest financial burden.”

Funding from the state is at a “wait and see” stage, but he is hopeful that various entities will catch the vision and partner up with the project. 

“As this thing is moving forward, I have no doubt that we’ll get entities involved that we don’t even expect,” Ehlers said. “We are not turning away anyone that wishes to offer solutions to assist — that is the type of people we are: We stand together when needed.”

He said that groups have already offered their support, not only in funding but also in service, including the Weston County Natural Resource District, which offered to provide funding and information regarding some of the plants and trees that will decorate the park.

Duke Ottema, another committee member, who is also on the Newcastle Veterans Committee, set up a 501(c)3 to accept tax-deductible donations from private entities for the Veterans Memorial planned for the park. 

The committee is also looking at examples from other areas in the state that have been successful with similar projects to model a plan of action accordingly.

“It has been a desire from the group to create a project plan that has the ability to be replicated for future projects to be developed and to enhance the overall economic development of our area,” Ehlers said. 

Once the park is completed, the city will be the primary caretaker of the facility, but Ehlers said he is confident that the area will be “self-maintained and looked after by those who visit and those who had a hand in making it a reality.”

“Maintenance and operations of Heritage Park will generate approximately $30,000 in value added each year to the local economy,” the study states. “Approximately $76,000 in new state tax revenue will be generated in the first year due to Heritage Park from construction visitors and maintenance/operations.” 

Anyone interested in partnering to bring Heritage Park to Newcastle can contact the city to find out how they can contribute. The feasibility study can also be viewed by contacting City Hall. 


What is Heritage Park? 

Heritage Park grew out of a desire to allow community members to take pride in where they’re from by telling “our story of who we are,” and having a meeting place for friends and families “to show honor” and enjoy, according to Dave Ehlers.

“I feel that taking pride in where one came from and what they now have to offer for their efforts can be a powerful force. Heritage Park was designed with that in mind,” Ehlers said. “This area comes from hard-working, common people. That is our heritage, and that should be celebrated and displayed for all to see.” 

The grassy area, which is about an acre, to the east of Pinnacle Bank, near the intersection of U.S. Highways 16 and 85, has been used as the farmers market location for the past few years. That’s when the brainstorming began for how to improve and use the space more effectively as a social gathering place, according to Ehlers. 

Heritage Park feasibility study names the following as the proposed recreational facilities that will be available at the park: 

• Veterans memorial

• Lawn and sitting areas

• An outdoor stage

• Two shelters/concession stand

• Restrooms

• Information kiosk

• Splash pad

Ehlers also hopes the million-dollar park will attract visitors to tour Newcastle and appreciate the heritage of Newcastle as much as the locals do. He said many visitors blow through town without a second thought. 

“We need to shift those visitors’ plans by offering a location that is welcoming and unique to our area,” Ehlers said. 

A full copy of the feasibility study can be requested from the city.


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