In 2019, Cody residents had a chance to be part of a plan to make downtown better.

The Downtown Redevelopment planning process was disrupted last spring by COVID-19, but last week it was back on track, as consultant Ben Levenger came to Cody to talk to people about what they thought of potential changes downtown.

“The timing couldn’t have been more atrocious,” Cody Mayor Matt Hall said. “It really threw a wrench in all of that, now they’re trying to get things going a bit.”

Levenger, an expert in community revitalization with Downtown Redevelopment Services, talked with members of the public, business owners and other stakeholders last week to build upon the work started in October 2019 with the Community Review and Strategic Doing sessions led by the Wyoming Business Council and UW Cooperative Extension.

Hall said with the input Levenger will provide advice on how to accomplish some of the goals and solve some of the issues brought up, from housing to more recreational opportunities.

“Here’s a way to change some of the sign facades, just suggestive notes the community can take,” Hall said. “Capture a little bit more of that downtown mystique. Get people to congregate downtown more.”

Wednesday night people had the chance to write two-word comments on what they thought of downtown, with many mentioning its tourist focus, the arts scene and its outdoorsy feel. One wrote “unsafe,” although as Cody Police Chief Baker said the following day while browsing the comments, that could refer to a feeling of being unsafe as a pedestrian while crossing the street, or walking home alone at night.

On a map of town, others jotted down the need for more bike paths and trails, and a number noted Big Horn Avenue as being unsafe as a pedestrian or cyclist. One drew a line straight to the middle of the road, remarking on the much-discussed need for a crosswalk or traffic light at Blackburn or Freedom.

Those comments, both vague and specific, will go into Levenger’s planning, as well as his discussions with various groups – Thursday morning he met with city public works staff as well as business owners and members of the public.

“I thought we had a pretty good start with the community development process,” Hall said. “I’m hoping we get back on track with those priorities.”

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