The town of Saratoga recently was given a copy of the new master plan for the town by Community Builders, Inc., the firm that was hired to produce the plan.
The master plan is 254 pages including all appendices, and lays out strategies for town growth, the resources that Saratoga has and issues that may stand in the way of progress for the town as it grows over the next couple decades. The plan notes that a well-diversified economy will help the town grow and become more prosperous.
According the plan, some of the largest economic generators in Saratoga are tourism and retail. Unlike many smaller towns in Wyoming, Saratoga enjoys relatively little retail leakage, which is caused when residents prefer to shop in other more distant towns or cities. Of the approximately $75.5 million of retail sales in the town in 2015, about $33.1 million was estimated to be from sales to residents, while the other $42.4 million came from shoppers who traveled to Saratoga. This, according to the report, shows that Saratoga is well positioned as a tourism and shopping destination.
While the report says that there is room for merchants in the town to capture some of the retail leakage caused by town residents shopping elsewhere, it also notes that some businesses require too much volume to entice them to move here. The report cited car dealerships, healthcare facilities and general merchandise stores as businesses that would not find Saratoga's smaller market lucrative enough.
The town should also support the expansion of lodging facilities to accommodate expanded tourism, the report said. This would drive retail sales for local merchants. Expansion of retail offerings would have a secondary effect of increasing residents' quality of life by providing more shopping, dining and entertainment options to residents.
The report also looked at amenities of the town that could help in future development, as well as impediments.
Key strengths of the town are its scenic setting, the legacy of the hobo pool, abundant outdoor activities and the town's reputation as a vacation spot due to five star accommodations like Brush Creek Ranch and others. Key factors that might hinder the town are the appearance of the town, inconsistent enforcement of zoning and nuisance ordinances, the highly seasonal nature of the town's tourism industry and a lack of indoor winter activities for visitors and residents.
A lack of affordable housing and child care options could also stand in the way of the town attracting new businesses and employees to work at them, the report said.
Going forward, the report said, it will be important for the town to encourage new housing development that is well-built and takes advantage of existing utility infrastructure.
The report also said that further development of the tourism market would be important to the town's future, and that the town should work with partners such as tourism councils and chambers of commerce to maintain existing tourism jobs and generate new tourism businesses to draw visitors to the town.
The plan was accepted by the town of Saratoga planning commission, and is expected to be sent to the town council who will vote whether to approve the plan or not.