The tribe's very big idea

Jan 10, 2018 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

With the Riverton City Council's final approval on requested zoning changes, the stage is now set for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe to proceed on its planned development of a 304-acre parcel of land just north of Walmart in Riverton and just south of the Wyoming Honor Farm.

No one can be sure yet exactly how quickly and how fully the ambitious plan will be launched and/or realized. But we can be sure that it has the potential to be one of the most significant development projects in local history.

In recent months The Ranger has published details about the land acquisition, routine legal proceedings and, most interestingly, the blueprint of what the tribe hopes to do with the property.

Nothing like it has ever been attempted in Riverton - by an American Indian tribe or anybody else. It is a monumental undertaking.

As the project moves forward, it's important to remember this is a long-term plan. A development of this magnitude - streets, housing, small retail, big retail, recreational space - couldn't be done quickly even if a Las Vegas resort billionaire were at the helm.

As described by the tribe's developer, the project would take years to complete - and by years, the tribe means more like 15 than three.

If this development is to succeed, it will require consistency in planning, management and tribal government over time, all under public scrutiny from the City of Riverton and its residents. It will demand that ambition and early enthusiasm be balanced by long-term enterprise and determination.

Above all else, we encourage Riverton to accept this proposal as an optimistic plan, projecting itself against a background of a thriving community with a stable, growing economy well into the second quarter of the 21st-century. It anticipates a community which could and would support a combination of residential, recreational and commercial development outlined in the plan.

That is a positive message for the tribe, for the City of Riverton and for Fremont County - and we can use all the positive messages we can get.

This would be a big undertaking for anybody. Can it be pulled off? Can the Eastern Shoshone Tribe actually develop this property into a thriving new "town within a town," very likely transforming Riverton in the process?

It is an intriguing and important question, and it will be fascinating to learn the answer in the decade to come.

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