Central City receives donation of Scarlett’s Casino

Regular Council Meeting

By David Josselyn

Work Session

Council met with Staff for a Work Session immediately prior to the regular meeting on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. The topics covered were Belvidere Theatre cost estimates and Spruce Street vehicle access. Representatives from FormWorks Design Group LLC, Jessica and Natalie, reviewed the final projected costs from the chosen design for the Belvidere Theatre. The total cost for complete renovation is $6.5 million; almost $4 million of that would go toward the theater, although the proposed order of projects would put priority on the façade and the Shoo Fly bar area. The façade work will be starting this fall with a goal to be finished before construction season ends due to weather. The City is applying for an administrative grant for a Pro Forma that would determine what and how much of the project is economically feasible for the City. The Pro Forma would be submitted along with a grant request to DOLA in December 2019 to help pay for the project. The City has set aside $760,000 for this project since 2016. The final construction plans will be submitted to the Historical Preservation Commission for approval before a Request for Proposal could be published. FormWorks is using representative photos from 1898 as a basis for exterior and interior design. The name of the building during that period was Armory Hall with the Belvidere Theatre being an attribute of the building.

Manager Miera next talked about over-sized vehicles using Spruce Street, an 11-foot wide one-way paved street that ends in a 6% grade behind the Opera House (the street name changes to Moriarty Lane) as a throughway to Eureka Street often thanks to their GPS guiding them. Every year there are several vehicles that get stuck on the Moriarty section and there is nothing in the city code to cite drivers for causing a blockage. City Staff is focusing on two avenues to alleviate the problem; enforcement and prevention. Director Hoover has already contacted the GPS companies to have them remove Spruce Street from their allowable roads and one has already committed to making that change with their next update. Alderman Hidahl commented, “I think we should drive some posts on the side of the road with a cross bar… with hanging chains that drag across a vehicle’s roof with our signs on that structure that say, ‘If you are driving your bus through here, you’re out of your freaking mind.’”

Regular Council Meeting

Mayor Fey convened the regular meeting at 7:06 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Council members; Jeff Aiken, Judy Laratta, Jack Hidahl, and Mayor Jeremy Fey were present. Alderwoman Jackie Johnson was absent. In attendance for Staff were City Clerk Reba Bechtel, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, Finance Director Abigail Robbins, City Manager Daniel Miera, Community Development Director Ray Rears, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Utilities Director Jason Nelson, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and County Sheriff Division Chief Tom Ihme.

Mayor Fey led the Pledge of Allegiance and then asked for any amendments or additions to the evening’s agenda. There were no additions or amendments to the agenda.

Mayor Fey asked if there were any conflicts of interest for any member of the council. There were no conflicts expressed.

Consent Agenda

The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the July 10 meeting and regular bill lists through July 23. Alderwoman Laratta asked if the law enforcement cost of $175,000 went up? Manager Miera replied that they pay a quarterly amount which has not changed for 2019. City Clerk Reba Bechtel stated there was an error in the minutes, a typo, which has been corrected. Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the Consent Agenda and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Fey opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on that night’s agenda. One person chose to talk to Council.

Spruce Street resident Joyce White said, “Thank you for taking seriously the large vehicles that come down our road. It’s gotten worse over the years; we have trucks pulling trailers with four ATVs coming down our road.” White said she thought that when signage was installed last year then the Sheriff’s would be able to issue tickets and so she is glad they are trying to get that added to the Code. She continued, “I know that when we travel, other mountain towns have length limits. Just don’t limit the vehicles that are in our town; I want to be able to drive up and down my road.” She also expressed concern that the road needs repair, and to limit speed should consider putting a second 15 MPH sign further down the road (Moriarty) “because I see people get past a certain point and just gun it.”

Walk This Way

Director Rears introduced Resolution 19-21 which would memorialize the acquisition of a permanent easement over the area known as the West Staircase by the City of Central. The real estate is owned by the Central City Opera and they are granting the easement to the City for the purposes of maintaining the staircase. Rears said that there was an assumption that the City of Central owned those staircases; the West, Central, and East, but when the Central City Opera tried to sell an adjacent property, they discovered that the Opera property included the staircase. Historically, they have been public walkways since they were built during the Great Depression, so they are likely City property, but they need the easement to ensure this is the case. Mayor Fey brought up the question of whether the City has interest in repairing the walkway since it is seldom used in his opinion. Director Rears responded that there is an element of public good in repairing the staircase. Alderman Hidahl commented that the “walkways are important connectors in the City” and the Trails Study showed the walkways as important factors in the trails system. “For my position,” said Hidahl, “it’s not a question of should that staircase go away, but when it will be repaired so those signs can come down.”

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve Resolution 19-21 and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The Resolution passed 3-1 with Laratta voting against.

Scarlett’s of Central City

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 19-22 which would accept the donation of real property addressed as 130 Main Street; formerly known as Scarlett’s Casino, from Central City LLC. The acquisition cost will be $5,000 to $10,000 and annual costs for maintenance and upkeep could be about $35,000.

Alderman Hidahl asked, “Why is this right for action tonight? This is grossly premature; we don’t have a plan; I have no idea how it’s going to be used. It’s an awkward building. How many taxing authorities are attached to the building? Those taxes would be taken off the rolls. There are just too many questions that we haven’t answered yet.”

Alderwoman Laratta countered, “I think we should absolutely consider passing this tonight. I think Central City waits around to see how things are going to go and we get passed by. I think we need to start acting. I’ve thought about it and I’ve decided that if the building is going to sit there empty, I’d rather we take care of it rather than rely on an owner.”

Alderman Aiken offered, “I’ve talked to Ren (Goltra; donor of the building) and he’s tried to fill the building; I would say he’s put forth good effort; he would love to see someone in there. I think this is a good opportunity to get it now. It has a lot of potential.”

Mayor Fey added that Mr. Goltra believes that the building will lead to a positive catalyst to growth in the hands of Central City. “There is not a single activity that has been talked about for the Belvedere that couldn’t happen in that building in the next few weeks.”

Alderman Hidahl responded, “The difference between the two buildings is night and day. Scarlett’s has a big hole through all three or four floors.”

Alderman Aiken moved to approve Resolution 19-22 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed 3-1 with Hidahl voting against.

Wanna Bet on Sports?

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 19-23 which would refer a ballot question to registered electors regarding sports betting. This approves the language that would go on the ballot for voter approval. Attorney McAskin added that all three districts; Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City, are using the same language. Mayor Fey asked if the voters turn the measure down, could Central City, as a home-rule city, then put the question to local voters? McAskin replied that the regulatory framework setup by the State would not allow that. Alderman Hidahl asked if the City has received any requests for sports betting from the local businesses. Manager Miera replied that there have not been any requests, but the Colorado Gaming Commission has asked for a yes vote on the measure and it is supported by the casinos. Executive Director of the Business Improvement District Joe Behm stated that not all the casinos would opt for sports betting, but they all want the option. Alderman Aiken moved to approve Resolution 19-23 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Water On-Call Repair

Acting Utilities Director Jack Beard introduced Resolution 19-24 which would approve an amendment with CNL Water Solutions. CNL provides on-call repair and emergency services to the water infrastructure. The original agreement has a not-to-exceed of $25,000, but a main line repair used most of that money and there are several repairs and fire hydrant replacements that need done. Manager Miera said they will be considering a $50,000 contract for the 2020 Budget. Alderman Hidahl comment that he has had several discussions with the City Manager about how residents would be able to deal with repairs beyond their ability such as the water systems. The City now has an insurance plan for drinking water, but there is nothing in place for sewer. Having an on-call contractor may create the ability for residents to use that contractor if they could come to an agreement. Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve Resolution 19-24 and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Cleaning Up Drugs and Liquor

Attorney McAskin introduced Ordinance 19-06 which would amend the Municipal Code regarding Liquor and Marijuana Licensing to conform to State Law. This is a “clean-up” ordinance, said McAskin. All the references in the Municipal Code refer to the wrong section in the State Code because references to devices and marijuana licensing were moved to a different section at the State level. Alderman Hidahl stated, “I understand this is an administrative Ordinance, but it provides the opportunity to make some improvements.” Hidahl suggested several changes to language.

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 19-06 and set the second reading and public forum for Tuesday, September 3, and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The motion passed unanimously.

Promise Program Recipient

The Council next considered an application for the Central City Promise Program which contributes $5,000 toward the continuing education of a resident. The application is from Juan Madrigal-Garcia who is attending Metro State University and majoring in environmental sciences. The Budget is for $20,000; the City has approved $10,000 to date. Alderman Aiken moved to approve the application and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.

Staff Reports

Mayor Fey asked of Staff, “What do we need to do with our Inter-Governmental Agreement with Black Hawk that can extend our shuttle service to the apartments? I see a lot of people walking up and down that hill.” Manager Miera responded, “If the majority of council would like us to approach Black Hawk with that, we can.” Miera then gave a history of why they do not have that service. Discussions did occur with the City of Black Hawk, but the expense was too great because Central City would have to foot 100% of the cost and it would add a separate shuttle service because Black Hawk does not want to interrupt the run times of the current schedule. When the rest of Council was non-committal to giving Staff direction, Mayor Fey said he would pursue the matter himself.

Alderwoman Laratta asked about the follow up to the red/dead trees next to the road. Manager Miera replied that he talked with the fire chief, Gary Allen, and they will research why the trees died to determine the cause and then remove the dead trees.

Council Comments

Alderman Hidahl said, “I think we need to look at our parking regulations” because there are parking places that are not used all winter long after the opera leaves. Manager Miera responded that there are some concerns about lines of site with parking in front of the Opera House, but they’ll take another look at what is available. He also stated that the Peak to Peak Players have just entered a two-year agreement with the Central City Opera to use the Williams Stables during the off season for the Opera.

Hidahl next stated, “We had a vicious dog incident a couple weeks ago. We have in the Code a prohibition against vicious dogs, but we do not have enforcement.” Hidahl said he believes that incident is something that will be taken up in court, “but if you know of a vicious dog, you need to report it.”

Hidahl next commented that there is an abandoned car in the bottom of the Century garage that has been there for months. “Perhaps the City has regulatory authority to limit the time cars are allowed to park?” Manager Miera said the City has talked about revisiting the agreement with Century that gives them the easement for the garage. The construction of the garage was funded by the Century Casino, but the City is granting a rebate to pay off 60% of it because the property size only requires 40% per regulation. Director Rears said the City did a sweep of the garage to clean up abandoned vehicles a couple years ago and “we will work with the owner to do a sweep and clean up the garage.” Hidahl said a time limit would make enforcement easier.

Hidahl next asked about where the City is with a cease and desist order for work on 200 W 4th High Street? Director Rears responded that there has been a formal complaint and it’s going to court.

Hidahl next stated that the water department spent two days cleaning the water intakes recently and asked if that was a flaw or normal maintenance? Acting Director Beard replied that this was an annual cleanup and there was a large rainstorm “so this gave us an opportunity to see how they are performing.” They are performing as expected.

Hidahl next commented that there is not a lot of communication that goes along between the County and the City. He recently attended a Board of County Commissioner’s (BOCC) meeting and they were hesitant to take action on a historic steam shovel acquisition from Nederland because they understood that Central City was interested. “I would suggest we arrange a joint meeting with the BOCC to take care of points of confusion lurking in people’s minds.”

Hidahl’s last comment was regarding Council meetings; “Let’s talk about when we cancel them, why we cancel them, and when we do, should we take a cut in our stipend.” Mayor Fey said, “I agree, we should always have a meeting. One of the most important things is the public forum. Even if there are no specific items, it is important to hear from and be available for the public.”

Alderman Aiken commented, “Great job on those grates; a more permanent solution than we’ve seen in the past.”

Mayor Fey commented, “I’ve really enjoyed this evening; it’s a reminder of how blessed I am to be on this council. Thank you.”

Public Forum

Mayor Fey opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to the council on any items not on the agenda. One person chose to talk to Council.

Mike (Nick) Nicholas, representative for the Hot Rod Hill Climb, said, “Thank you for your partnership; we have people from all over the world including Norway the UK and Canada. We think we’ll have 2,500 unique faces for the event.” The main event will be Saturday, September 14th and Spring Street will be closed. Nick went door to door on Spring Street to talk to residents and reported, “No vicious dogs, although there were a couple that let me know they knew I was there.” He also stated that everyone he talked to was supportive of the event and were okay with the closure.

Mark Your Calendars

Mayor Fey adjourned the regular meeting at 8:59 p.m. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

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