After years of planning and months of construction, hundreds of people gathered at the David Street Station in downtown Casper on Wednesday night to celebrate the public plaza’s official opening.
City leaders hope the plaza will serve as an anchor to a revitalized downtown that draws visitors to the city’s core. Already, there are signs the space might be having that effect. Several new businesses have popped up in the surrounding blocks including Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana and Urban Bottle. Gaslight Social, a new bar near the plaza, also opened Wednesday.
“It’s everything I could have dreamed of and more,” said Kevin Hawley, the CEO of the Downtown Development Authority.
Gov. Matt Mead spoke at the ceremony saying about Casper that “when it needs something done, it gets it done.”
Mini lights adorned the new structure, that has a stage with a grassy field and pathways. The plaza opened in time for the upcoming solar eclipse festival this weekend that will include band performances, children’s games and food vendors.
Although the opening ceremony marked the completion of the project’s first phase, a bulldozer and dirt area on the east side marked the site of phase two. That stage will include a splash pad, space for vendors, restrooms, a performance area and an observation deck.
Wednesday’s ceremony included the dedication of the Brian Scott Gamroth Community Stage.
Gamroth, a local radio personality and board member of the development authority, died in a September motorcycle crash.
Following Gamroth’s death, 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.
Gamroth’s son, Kyle Gamroth, thanked donors and the community, saying the community has been “gracious and supportive” to his family.
Mead also offered a tribute to Gamroth.
“Brian had a great spirit,” he said.