Council hears all sides regarding proposed parking garage
By David Josselyn
On Tuesday, September 17th, the Central City Council met to deliberate both old and new matters. All members except Alderman Gloria Gaines were present and the meeting was called to order by Mayor Engels at 7:00pm.
The consent agenda was moved to approve by Alderman Bob Spain and seconded by Alderman Shirley Voorhies and Kathy Heider simultaneously. The consent agenda consisted of the regular bill lists of September 5th and 12th, and the City Council minutes from September 3rd. The motion to approve the consent agenda was passed unanimously.
Proposed Parking Structure Support and Criticism
Dodd Hanneman, General Manager of Johnny Z’s Casino, took advantage of the public forum to encourage the council to add parking to the city. He wanted to “be on the record for supporting additional parking in Central City.”
Roy Varela of Heritage West Realty and owner of the property at 430 Lawrence Street next stood up before the council. Roy stated that his buyers, interested in purchasing Scarlet’s Casino, apprised him they plan to go to contract next week on Scarlet’s, but their interest hinges on a parking facility connecting to Scarlet’s.
Tom Sundermeyer, resident from Spring Street, carried his notes and a large binder to the podium to talk to the council. He stated that although the proposal indicated five test holes would be dug, only two have been excavated for the construction assessment. Ground water was found at 55 and 61 feet below surface which is at or near the base of the proposed excavations. He is concerned that “there has been inadequate site evaluation.” He gave several examples to back up his statement. The PH (acidity or alkalinity) of the water would be lower (more acidic) as you get closer to the gulch. Excavating for the new lot has the potential to reach mine related items. Existing mining shafts under the construction project would make drilling holes without hitting them unrealistic. Sundermeyer concluded by saying he “isn’t against a parking garage,” but we should be “very, very careful where we put the garage.”
BID Presentation on Parking Garage
Joe Behm, Executive Director of the Business Improvement District (BID), addressed the council with a proposal from the BID on a study of a new parking garage. He supported the idea saying that operating casinos would add devices and Scarlet’s would open up with new devices. When more parking is available, more people come to town adding incremental revenue for the town. “During budget talks, add a line item on just what Tom said,” directed Joe, referring to Sundermeyer’s cautionary advice to have additional studies and reports to “get this thing done right.”
Brian Livingston and Ken Baumgardener, from Haseldon Construction pitched their ideas and their company for the new parking structure. Livingston, a contractor, explained they are familiar with the area because they did some remodel work on the Teller House, built the Colorado Central Station Casino, the Mardi Gras Casino and parking garage, and the Isle of Capris Casino and parking garage. They also did the expansion for Fitzgerald’s (now the Saratoga). All of these projects encountered similar things that you will with a new parking structure. They encountered a mine that was not known, two historic structures, and other things. “Joe asked us to take a look at what is being proposed and we are happy to offer our opinions” said Livingston. Baumgardener and Livingston advised that they would like to see a collaborative approach between the contractor and the city to ensure adequate evaluation and special consideration of the historic needs of the City.
Transparency from the Central City Opera
Rita Sommers, director of operations, thanked the City of Central for the sponsorship of the musical Our Town and of Central City Days events. Our Town was at 60 percent of capacity and achieved 70 percent of its revenue goal. Central City Days was a progressive party holding two events on two days and attended by 100 people. This is on par with last year, but less than the 2013 goal. Most of the attendees were new to Central City and from the 55 to 60 age bracket. The Opera attempted to target the 25 to 45 age group. “Although the attendance may be considered small, we want to continue in 2014 and connect it to The Marriage of Figaro” summarized Sommers.
Mayor Ron Engels extended “Our thanks to the Central City Opera.”
Property, Liability and Workman’s Comp Insurance Quote Accepted
Finance Director Shannon Flowers spoke to the council and informed them they need to accept an insurance quote from the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) by Oct 3rd. Property insurance rates are higher in the quote because the City has added new assets and with higher value assets comes higher insurance rates. Alderman Voorhies asked if we’ve looked to see if another insurance agency could offer lower rates. Flowers said “we did not this year.” CIRSA is a preferred insurance provider for municipalities based on the advantages of participating in a pooled insurance group. Alderman Voorhies moved to accept the insurance quotes and was seconded by Alderman Heider. The motion passed unanimously.
Iowa Lode Mining Claim Annexation
City Attorney Marcus McAskin informed the council that the owner of the Iowa Lode Mining Claim wishes to annex into the city with Ordinance 13-11. The property is roughly 4.8 acres. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 13-11 with public hearing set for Oct 1st and was seconded by Heider. The motion passed unanimously.
Iowa Lode Mining Claim Zoning
Attorney McAskin then introduced Ordinance 13-12, the zoning of the Iowa Lode Mining Claim as medium density residential contingent upon passage of Ordinance 13-11. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the first hearing of Ordinance 13-12 with public hearing set for Oct 1st and was seconded by Alderman Spain. The motion passed unanimously.
Prospector’s Run-BLM Transfer Property Annexation
The City Attorney next introduced Ordinance 13-13 which would annex about one-tenth of an acre from the Prospector’s Run-BLM Transfer Property into the City. McAskin explained that this is a clean-up ordinance. Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 13-13 with public hearing on Oct 1st and was seconded by Alderman Spain. The motion passed unanimously.
Prospector’s Run-BLM Transfer Property Zoning
As a necessity, Ordinance 13-14 was then introduced by Attorney McAskin which would zone the Prospector’s Run-BLM Transfer Property annexation as a Planned Unit Development (PUD). Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the first hearing of Ordinance 13-14 with public hearing on Oct 1st and was seconded by Alderman Spain. The motion passed unanimously.
License Fees for the Whacky Weed
City Clerk Reba Bechtel introduced Resolution 13-18 which would set licensing fees for retail marijuana establishments. “This is about getting our fees in place before the stores open”, stated Bechtel. The staff has researched the fee structure in other municipalities and has found that most have yet to set fees. Alderman Heider speculated that, “This is a really good start, we have to start somewhere, this is a good place to start and it can be changed.” Alderman Voorhies moved to approve Resolution 13-18 and was seconded by Alderman Heider. The resolution passed unanimously.
Promise Scholarship Program Changes
Finance Director Flowers, responding to the council’s request from the September 3rd meeting, drew up changes to the Promise Program. The amendments are as follows: applicants can only receive funding for a four year period following the initial application (unless interrupted by military service) regardless of whether or not the $20,000 limit has been reached; the initial application must be made within two years of high school graduation or receipt of a G.E.D. (unless interrupted by military service). Alderman Heider moved to approve Resolution 13-19 and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies and Alderman Spain simultaneously. The motion passed unanimously.
Staff Reports and Council Comments
City Manager Alan Lanning informed the council that, “We did not get the rural Tiger Grant.” The grant went to the Eisenhower Tunnel for fire suppression instead. “We’ll retool and request another Tiger Grant or energy impact grant,” stated Lanning
Alderman Shirley Voorhies expressed her thanks to the staff for the work they did with recent rainfall saying, “With all the water we’ve had, you’ve been phenomenal guys, thank you!”
John Zimpel, owner of Johnny Z’s Casino, talked to the council about his concerns over the Lawrence Street water line project. “I heard about the water project on Lawrence through the grapevine,” and that “traffic would not be affected” started Zimpel. “Now I hear that there will be two-way traffic with a light letting traffic through.” He continued by saying that revenue for the city is down from customers and hopefully it has to do with the Twin Tunnel project, not that they don’t like Central anymore. He is concerned that the Lawrence project will compound the traffic issue. Zimpel finished by saying, “Please don’t disrupt our businesses any more than they already have been.”
Jim Voorhies, Vice Chairman of the USS Enterprise CVAN/CVN-65 Association stood up to thank the council for their proclamation recognizing the veterans for their service. Veterans who served upon any of the USS Enterprise vessels gathered in Colorado this summer. Their event included a trip to Central City and one veteran exclaimed, “Oh, it’s like an old time mining town – it takes me back to history.” Jim said that was the feeling from the whole group and encouraged the council to keep that historical look. Voorhies then presented the council with “tokens of our appreciation – our reunion pins.” The pin has several images indicative of Colorado including an unidentified mammal. “There is supposed to be a bison on the pin, but they have antlers on it,” said Jim. He made sure to inform the council the pins were made in New York.
Mickey Rosenbaum, General Manager with Century Casino, next stood up to express his concerns. “I want to echo what John (Zimpel) has said regarding interruption to businesses due out the Lawrence project. We need to be vigilant and learn from this experience.”
Joe Behm ended the public comments by thanking the council for allowing him to get up here to talk about proposed projects.
The next Central City Council Meeting is scheduled for October 8th.