Main Street in Central City reversing direction

Council votes for trial period switching directions

By David Josselyn

Regular Council Meeting

The Central City Regular Council Meeting convened at 7:08 p.m. following the first 2017 budget work session. The Council immediately entered into Executive Session for legal advice on specific questions related to the Business Improvement District Act. The Council reconvened the regular session at 7:32 p.m. All council members; Jeff Aiken, Mayor Pro-tempore Kathy Heider, Judy Laratta, Shirley Voorhies, and Mayor Ron Engels, were present. Also in attendance for Staff were City Clerk Reba Bechtel, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, Finance Director Abigail Adame, City Manager Daniel Miera, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, and Utilities Director Jason Nelson. Not present who normally attend were Interim Police Chief Patric Stanton, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and Community Development Director Ray Rears.

After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Ron Engels asked for any amendments or additions to the agenda or if any agenda items presented a conflict of interest. There were no additions or amendments to the agenda.

Consent Agenda

The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the regular bill lists through October 12 and minutes from the October 4 and October 5 meetings. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the consent agenda and was seconded by Alderman Laratta. The approval of the consent agenda passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Engels opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on that night’s agenda. Barbara Thielemann of Main Street Central City signed up to speak to the Council. Thielemann spoke to the Council regarding Resolution 16-31 which is being voted on tonight, reminding the Council of the importance of the restoration of historic buildings and the value they add to the City in tourism. The building in question is the recently acquired Belvidere Theatre. She asked for commitment from the City of a minimum of $250,000 per year for the next four years. Thielemann then reviewed her progress in pursuing grants toward the restoration of the Belvidere during the annual Philanthropy Conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

EPA Dragging Its Heels

City Attorney McAskin introduced the second reading and public hearing of Ordinance 16-03 which would adopt a new article in the Municipal Code pertaining to the Quartz Hill Overlay District. This was previously scheduled for second reading at the October 4 meeting, but due to not hearing back from the EPA was tabled until tonight. McAskin reported that the EPA has gone over the agreement now and presented changes to his office just recently, but the attorney’s office has not had a chance to review the changes. Attorney McAskin recommended the Ordinance be reopened for public hearing on Tuesday, November 1 under a new Ordinance number as continually delaying an action is not good government. Alderman Aiken moved to approve reopening the Ordinance at the Tuesday, November 1 meeting and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies. The motion passed unanimously.

Reworking Device Fees

City Manager Miera introduced the second reading and public hearing of Ordinance 16-04 which would amend the Municipal Code regarding Annual License Fees and Gaming Device Fees. The Ordinance would redefine percentages of fees collected to allocate more for infrastructure improvements, but the total expenditures for the casinos would remain the same. This is done for budgetary reasons. The big change would be the end of the marketing device fee. Currently, the City collects fees specifically for marketing purposes and passes the revenue on to the Business Improvement District (BID). The agreement to collect this fee expires at the end of 2016 and the Ordinance does not continue the fee for 2017.

Executive Director of the BID Joe Behm addressed the Council on this issue. Behm reported that it is the desire of the casinos to continue the device and marketing fees as historically established. If the BID took over the marketing fee revenue collection, they would propose a marketing fee to the BID board first and there is no guarantee it would pass. If it does pass, the BID has less recourse to collect past due and unpaid fees. The marketing fees are essential for the BID to promote and fund special events such as Stills in the Hills and the Hot Rod Hill Climb. Joe requested the City enter an agreement with the BID as collector of marketing fees and not act as a taxing entity, but a collection agency. Mayor Engels urged the Council to direct staff to work with the BID for a cooperative solution that will be agreeable to both parties.

The second reading of Ordinance 16-04 was moved to approve by Alderman Heider and was seconded by Alderman Laratta. The Ordinance passed unanimously.

Welcome to History Jackie Mitchell

The Council appointed Jackie Mitchell as an alternate to the Historic Preservation Commission. Jackie was nominated by Alderman Heider.

Alderman Heider moved to approve the appointment of Jackie Mitchell as alternate to the Historic Preservation Commission and was seconded by Alderman Laratta. The appointment was approved unanimously.

Funding the Belvidere

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 16-31 which would memorialize funding goals related to the Historic Belvidere Theatre. This Resolution would commit the City to providing $250,000 annually for the next four years to the restoration of the Belvidere Theatre. Alderman Heider said that they hope to get some very high dollar grants and showing a commitment from the City will help get those grants. During the budget work session prior to the meeting, the Council was presented a bond chart with several options to get funding and Mayor Engels pointed out that the full cost of the Belvidere could be obtained should they exercise one of the bonding options.

Resolution 16-31 was moved to approve by Alderman Voorhies and was seconded by Alderman Heider. The Resolution passed unanimously.

One Way the Other Way

Director Sam Hoover introduced Resolution 16-32 which would support the plan to change the direction of traffic on an interim basis on Main Street between Nevada and Gregory streets. It is currently one-way traffic along Main Street from the north, Lawrence Street, to the north, Nevada Street. They plan would switch the direction to one-way from Nevada to Gregory Street in the middle while keeping the flow from north to south from Lawrence to Gregory. Traffic would then be forced to head down Gregory at that point regardless of which direction they come from. The plan would be advertised to the general population over the next two weeks and then the direction change be effective November 1. Alderman Aiken asked if they were committed to a six-month trial period or if it could be switched should it have particularly horrific results. The two parking spaces in front of Annie Oakley’s will go away to be replaced by two on-street parking spaces with a 15-minute limit.

Resolution 16-32 was moved to approve “joyfully and emphatically” by Alderman Laratta and seconded by Alderman Voorhies. The Resolution passed four votes to one with Mayor Engels voting against. Engels commented that what is proposed “is not enough.” Alderman Heider remarked she has many concerns, but is willing to do it as a trial.

Historical Debate for New Signage

Attorney McAskin introduced Resolution 16-33 which would award a bid for wayfinding signage to WJS Signs, doing business as Precision Signs. There will be two major monument signs and six wayfinding signs included in the agreement. The City’s historic logo will be printed on the signs and the work will be completed by early to mid-December 2016.

Alderman Heider noted that the monument signs would use faux rock for the foundation and that it is not historic. Alderman Aiken argued that as a stone mason himself, suitable rock would be about one percent of the rock available in the area. Discussion continued for 15 minutes regarding whether or not the use of faux rock would be acceptable by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and appropriate for a monument sign espousing the historicity of the City. Alderman Voorhies struggled to decide one way or another having been on the HPC and weighing what they would say versus the fiscal responsibility of the City and the long awaited opportunity for decent signage. Mayor Engels passed around the samples of faux rock that were presented at the last meeting for a point of reference. Alderman Laratta remarked that they look exactly like the rock in her back yard.

Resolution 16-33 was moved to approve by Alderman Laratta and seconded by Alderman Aiken. Alderman Heider commented, “I think this sends a very bad message to people who go before the HPC and get turned down because they do not use approved materials.” Alderman Aiken stated, “We looked at it two weeks ago and said it was okay then.” The Resolution passed four votes to one with Alderman Heider voting against.

Project and Staff Reports

Attorney McAskin reviewed a lawsuit filed against the City naming the manager, finance director, fire chief, and Shawn Griffith. There has been no judgment yet by the Department of Justice that the case is meritorious.

Council Comments

Alderman Heider mentioned that the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature is Bob Dylan and he spent a summer in Central singing at the Gilded Garter. Alderman Aiken countered that Dylan himself claimed he spent one night and was fired based on his own words on his album.

Public Forum

Mayor Engels opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to the council on any items not on the agenda. No one took this opportunity to speak to the council.

Mark your calendars

The Council entered into Executive Session at 8:40 p.m. for legal advice on certain employment agreements and for determining positions relative to matter of negotiation and strategy regarding fire services to the City of Central and portions of unincorporated Gilpin County. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, November 1, 2016.

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