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Changing speed limits in Central City not so simple

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Council approves contract with Agave Landscaping for Belvidere Pocket Park

By David Josselyn

Regular Council Meeting

Mayor Fey convened the regular meeting of the Central City Council at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in City Hall Council Chambers. Council members Jeff Aiken, Jackie Johnson, Judy Laratta, Kara Tinucci, and Mayor Jeremy Fey were present.

Mayor Fey led the Pledge of Allegiance and then asked for any amendments or additions to the evening’s agenda. Attorney McAskin added a third topic to the Executive Session regarding the potential lease of City-owned property.

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 March 2 meeting, the regular bill lists through March 2, and Resolution 21-09 which would amend the adopted 2020 Budget, specifically the Public Safety Fund. 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 the night’s agenda. No one chose to address council.

Old Business

No old business was on the docket.

New Business

The Council considered approval on one Resolution and one Ordinance.

A Little Pocket of Sunshine for the Belvidere

Community Development Planner and Main Street Advisor Lisa Roemhildt introduced Resolution 21-10 which would authorize the City Manager to execute a contract with Agave Landscapes and Masonry for the Belvidere Pocket Park. The cost of the park is paid for by a grant of $50,000 and a City matching amount of ten percent or $5,000. Funds for the Belvidere Pocket Park are set aside and part of the 2021 Budget. The project includes retaining wall stabilization, entry steps, patio, walkway, benches, and signage.

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve Resolution 21-10 and was seconded by Alderwoman Johnson. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Burden of Campaign Finance Investigations Moves to City

Attorney McAskin introduced the first reading of Ordinance 21-02 which would establish an administrative procedure to address alleged municipal campaign finance complaints and violations. This Ordinance establishes a procedure for the City Clerk to handle allegations. The State of Colorado recently passed a law, Senate Bill 19-232, which changed the complaint process from being submitted at the State level to being submitted at the local municipal level. Attorney McAskin stated that most of the home-rule municipalities have adopted similar motions aligning themselves with the State law.

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 21-02 and set the public forum and second reading for Tuesday, April 6, and was seconded by Alderman Aiken.

Mayor Fey argued that the City should not be responsible to take on the financial and time burden of investigating complaints and was not for passing this Ordinance. Manager Miera responded that the process is not very complex or cumbersome. The motion passed unanimously.

Staff Reports and Council Comments

  Manager Miera updated the council on speed limits on the Central City Parkway and COVID-19 re-entry guidelines. Unfortunately, the sound for the virtual Zoom meeting was not optimal and much of what he said was not decipherable.

Regarding re-entry guidelines for the pandemic, Miera stated that one of the driving forces is whether all people eligible for vaccinations have access to vaccinations (whether or not they choose to be vaccinated) and that time “is coming soon.”

Regarding speed limits, Miera stated that they would have to do another study, so future changes would depend upon whether they can get a grant for the study. He talked about the necessity to do a study even if they are considering reducing the speed limit. Director Sam Hoover commented that the City does have some flexibility on City streets (without a study), but changes would still need an engineer’s approval. For example, they dropped the speed on Spruce Street from 20 mph (he believes) to 15 miles per hour. He said the normal change seen is in 5 miles per hour increments. Mayor Fey commented he would be in favor of dropping all speed limits in the City to 15 mph without a study. Director Hoover warned “you may pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees if you do something arbitrary.” Sheriff Armstrong commented that he believes 20 mph would be a reasonable speed through town, although there are some areas that could justify something slower. He also agreed with Director Hoover that changing the speeds without due process could lead to challenges to enforcement.

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. No one chose to address the Council at that time.

Mark Your Calendars

Council moved to enter Executive Session at 8:11pm regarding retention of special counsel to serve under the City Attorney and to discuss the potential sale of City-owned property and the potential lease of City-owned property. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

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