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Former city official Bauman challenges incumbent Baker
Oct 25, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Riverton City Council Ward 3 candidate Larry Bauman said voters will have a clear choice to make when they fill out ballots Nov. 6.
"They can continue down the same path with the incumbent, or they can vote for better management of the city," Bauman said Thursday.
If he is elected, Bauman, 62, said he would work toward more responsible expenditures of municipal money. He said recent spending has taken place with "no priorities" in mind.
"They say they don't have any money, but they buy a contaminated piece of property on Main Street," Bauman said. "They say they don't have any money, but they give the city administrator a $7,000-per-year raise after one year on the job. ... I'm going to try to reign in the frivolous expenditures."
Planning is the key to smart spending, Bauman said, adding that he would look at least five years into the future when making decisions about taxpayer money.
"You have to look ahead," Bauman said. "I want to look ahead, and I want to look out for Riverton. What are our needs several years from now?"
Specifically, he would like to see an official set of priorities as well as a maintenance plan regarding roadwork in town. He recommended chip sealing new roads to ensure they last longer.
"We've never had a street
maintenance program," Bauman said. "The city has let its streets fall apart, then has to spend millions to totally rebuild them."
Main Street lot
He criticized the city's recent decision to purchase a piece of property at 422 E. Main St., where environmental agencies have identified evidence of contamination from underground storage tanks.
"That was the dumbest thing (the city) did," Bauman said. "They're stuck now. Who wants to buy it?"
He acknowledged that the building that once sat on the property was an eyesore, but Bauman said the city is going to end up spending more money on the lot before it can be put into use as a business, park or parking lot.
"What's the purpose of buying it?" he said. "Where's your priority here of money? You have a limited budget."
Six-year councilman Lars Baker, who is running to keep his seat in Ward 3, said he would like to see the property sold to a private business owner who could use the "valuable piece of real estate" in downtown Riverton.
"But it's complicated," Baker said, referring to the contamination underneath the lot.
Baker, 68, said the city is looking into options for cleaning up the pollution, possibly through the Brownfields Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"We could put a few dollars into that to remediate that, then get this certificate from the Department of Environmental Quality that says it's OK, that it's cleaned up and running," Baker said. "Then you don't have this question that would interfere with somebody (buying the lot). Nobody wants to buy a headache."
Despite the cleanup issues, Baker said the city did the right thing in buying the property and removing the aging building that once stood there. He likened the move to the city's acquisition and demolition of the old hospital building in east Riverton several years ago.
"It's just in neither case are these projects something that's going to make the city a lot of money," Baker said.
Baker said he is looking forward to being involved with the Wind River Job Corps, which is scheduled to open in Riverton by 2015. He said the city has a lot of work to do to prepare for the 100 extra local jobs that will come along with the facility.
"Where do the folks live that come here to do that?" Baker said. "That will certainly affect the planning department and city infrastructure needs."
He predicts there will be pressure on the city to build more high-density residential housing and develop more subdivisions before the Job Corps arrives.
"There will be some growing pains for the city," he said.
Baker also wants to see progress on issues with alcohol in the community. The council voted last month to close city parks at sunset in an effort to decrease crime and vandalism, but Baker said more must be done -- and not necessarily at City Hall.
"I'm not sure there's a whole lot the city can do to regulate that," Baker said. "But if there was something we as a community could do a better job of, it's dealing with alcohol."
Baker said he contributes thoughtful consideration to the city council, calling himself a problem solver who looks to build consensus among the group of local representatives. He would like to continue sitting on the council to give back to the city that has given him so much.
"I've raised my family here," Baker said. "Riverton is really a great place to live, (and) if I can serve the community in some way with the skills and talents I have, then I'm going to."