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Central City and County deliberate Belvidere Theatre conditions  

City+CountyJoint work session for Central and Gilpin

By David Josselyn

On Tuesday, July, 19, 2016, the Central City Council joined forces with the Gilpin County Commissioners to hash out a couple of items of mutual concern. The Central Council joined the  Gilpin Commissioners as an agenda item on the County work session. Prior to their pow-wow, the Commissioners approved the amended MOU with Central City regarding police enforcement increasing the County’s coverage for the City. It was moved to approve by Commissioner Watson and seconded by Commissioner Schmalz. Commissioner Isenhart was acting as chairman and did not vote.

The County was represented by the three Commissioners, County Attorney Jim Petrock, County Manager Roger Baker, and Sharon Cate. Representatives from the City included the full council, Manager Daniel Miera, and City Attorney Marcus McAskin.

Belvidere Theatre Legalese

The primary purpose for the joint session was to discuss a quit claim deed presented to the County by the City. Both parties had discussed at earlier dates the possibility of trading something of value, such as land, for the building; however, Manager Baker stated they did not expect a quit claim deed and the urgency of such a document precipitated the meeting that evening. Manager Baker added that they could not honor the deed as presented and instead, gave the City an amended deed that included language restricting use of the building or the ownership would revert to the County. The restriction outlined the sole use could be for public property. Attorney Petrock argued that the City could rent the space to non-profit groups, but they could not have for-profit sales, such as concessionaires, inside the building. The City Council balked at the absolute restriction of the amended deed. Commissioner Schmalz asked how often does it happen that a county would put a restriction on a deeded property to another governmental agency. Manager Baker said they are making it up as they go and later, Attorney Petrock admitted there is no known precedent that he could think of.

There are three possibilities that the two governments discussed; an amended quit claim deed, allowing the property to go for sale at the annual auction (required by law after one year from taking possession), and to trade the property for something else. The County looked at several possibilities including land for a shooting range, but came to the conclusion that there is nothing viable that they would want within City limits. Although Manager Baker expressed the positives of another entity purchasing the Belvidere, the City felt the risk too great to go that route. All the County Commissioners agreed that they want to see the property go to the City. Ultimately, the City and the County gave direction to their respective attorneys to meet for some wordsmithing on the deed so that both parties are satisfied and the document remains legal. A sense of urgency was conveyed on both sides of the table.

Shooting Range Options

The Commissioners asked the Council if they would consider having a shooting range within City limits so that the County does not waste time considering options that would not be approved. All of Council agreed that they would be fine having a shooting range within their limits as long as suitable land could be found. Although supporting the idea, Mayor Engels also stated he does not see a shooting range as an economic benefit as it will be unlikely that patrons would spend money on more than a box of shells in the City.

Lack of Russell Gulch Fire Protection

Commissioner Watson said the County was asked to put a moratorium on any additional buildings in Russell Gulch due to resident concerns of being outside the fire protection district. The County does not have the authority to enact a moratorium and Watson urged all present that a solution should be found soon. Mayor Engels said that the City was in talks with Timberline Fire District to cover that area about the time Timberline went through reorganization and both parties had to step away. The Mayor stated that if there seems to be some movement back in that direction, they would be happy to look into it again. The County work session was adjourned and the City Council reconvened on their own in City Hall.

Main Street Trafficking

Alderman Laratta championed a trial version of traffic reversal through Central City that would be “on the cheap.” She passionately touted the problems with the current setup such as the Do Not Enter sign and how traffic flow naturally leads down to Black Hawk. While the Mayor agreed with the issues, he cautioned that jumping into a trial period without a long-term solution would be problematic due to street infrastructure limits, parking spaces, and maneuverability. Alderman Aiken shared his observations having worked in gaming since its beginning in Gilpin and at the Easy Street Casino which would be directly impacted with a change. Aiken stated that people use those parking spaces along Main Street for near and direct access to the place they like to gamble. When Main Street was shut down temporarily, those same people do not find another way to get to Easy Street, but rather find another comfortable locale and do not come back. Alderman Aiken did say that he is in favor of trying something different like traffic directionality to see what happens. Alderman Laratta argued that Main Street needs to be repaired anyway, so why not try it out until they repair the street? Council directed staff to once again pursue diagrams, options, and cost for short-term and long-term reversal. The Council then entertained comments from resident Jack Hidahl who has government work in his background. Hidahl said that there have already been so many studies done on Main Street that you could fill a room with just those.

Coming Up

The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, August 2, at 7:00 p.m.

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