The David Street Station has hired its first employee as the downtown plaza readies to partially open in time for the August eclipse. The project came within 5 percent of its full funding goal earlier this week and plans to open the western half of the plaza on Aug. 15.
Operations Manager Amy Crawford started work on Monday and is already finalizing musical headliners to perform during the Wyoming Eclipse Festival from Aug. 18 to 21 and looking ahead to fall events.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of a project and really continue their momentum,” Crawford said. “This is something Caper has needed for a really long time.”
Crawford is the first full-time employee of the plaza, though she is currently working under the auspices of the Downtown Development Authority, which is directing the project. She previously worked as a regional live events manager in Wyoming for Townsquare Media, which owns several local radio stations.
Crawford said plans for the August opening are still being determined but that musical acts and food vendors will be on hand during the eclipse festival, which is projected to attract 35,000 visitors to Casper.
“Everything that we do at the David Street Station is going to be free and open to the public throughout the day,” she said.
The DDA announced Wednesday that it had completed fundraising for the Brian Scott Gamroth Community Stage after $250,000 in community donations were raised, triggering an additional $250,000 in anonymous matching funds.
Gamroth, a local radio personality and board member of the DDA, died in a September motorcycle crash. The community fundraising effort solicited relatively small donations from Casperites and others in the region.
“To know that over 1,000 people contributed to this great community effort to recognize Brian is amazing,” said DDA CEO Kevin Hawley.
Notable contributions include $40,000 from the American Petroleum Institute’s central Wyoming chapter, $33,000 from the Thankful Thursday promotion, $13,00 from a fundraiser in Kaycee, $10,000 from the Lockhart family and $7,000 from a Casper Elks Club pancake breakfast.
Hawley said Kaycee’s contribution especially stood out. The funds came from a potluck dinner fundraiser.
“One hundred fifty of the 200 people in that town — during a winter storm — came out,” Hawley said. “We were kind of shocked.”
Following Gamroth’s death last fall, John Jorgensen, George Bryce and Cathy Carson began a fundraising push that raised $1 million by November, including the pledge to match up to $250,000 in community contributions to the stage.
That brings the total sum raised for the plaza within $455,000 of the $9.1 million budget, which includes an operational endowment.
The city of Casper contributed $3 million two years ago.
Hawley said the goal was to start construction on the plaza’s east side, including the splash pad, before a winter hiatus. That’s because spring weather will make it difficult to install foundations and lay concrete on the plaza.
“It’s rainy and muddy and sloppy,” Hawley said. “We do not want to miss having a full opening by late spring 2018.”
While the DDA has enough money to begin that construction, Hawley said the group does not want to sign a contract for the second phase until it is confident that it will be able to complete the project.