Water General damage issue dominates meeting in Central City

City Council Meets Amid Public Scrutiny

By David Josselyn

The Central City Council met for a work session on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, to discuss five separate issues. The work session was unusually well attended by City residents concerned with these issues. Topics discussed were traffic infractions and excessively large vehicles traveling along Spruce Street, speed bump polices, the paint of the Belvidere Theatre, the costs to add turning options to Exit 7 on the Parkway, and the Water General damage. Due to considerable interest by the public, and since these issues were not on the Regular Meeting agenda, and the work session did not allow time for public input, Mayor Heider agreed to move the Public Forum normally reserved for issues not on the agenda to the front of the meeting to allow time for the public to speak.

Regular Council Meeting

The Central City Regular Council Meeting convened at 7:07 pm in City Hall Council Chambers. Council members; Jeff Aiken, Mary Bell, Judy Laratta, Shirley Voorhies, and Mayor Kathy Heider were present. In attendance for Staff were City Clerk Reba Bechtel, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, City Manager Daniel Miera, Community Development Director Ray Rears, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Utilities Director Jason Nelson, and Fire Chief Gary Allen.

Mayor Heider led the Pledge of Allegiance and then asked for any amendments or additions to the evening’s agenda. The second Public Forum was moved to the front of the meeting to be held along with the first Public Forum. This was done to accommodate several people who wished to address the council with respect to their schedules.

City Attorney McAskin added an item to the Executive Session which would read, “…and to discuss a property exchange request.”

Consent Agenda

The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the August 15 meeting and regular bill lists through August 30. Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve the Consent Agenda and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta and Alderman Aiken simultaneously. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Heider opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on that night’s agenda or on a topic not on the evening’s agenda. Eight residents chose to speak to the Council.

Six of the residents spoke about the Water General issue. The Water General, located west of the KOA above Central City, is a device that allows people to purchase water in bulk from the City. Many residents and commercial businesses live outside the water infrastructure for the City and have no access to well water. They must find a source to purchase water in large quantities which the City provides. The cost of obtaining water from Central City is slightly higher than getting it from the next nearest source, Idaho Springs, but the convenience is worth the extra money for most of the residents. The Water General was recently damaged, a police report was filed, and the District Attorney is pursuing damages from the perpetrator.

Karla Booth addressed the Council regarding the Water General and the importance to get it fixed. Booth cited fire mitigation and her landscaping business as motivating factors to get the Water General.

Carl Schembri is a new resident to Central City and he builds homes. In his work he installs cisterns and said the Water General is “an effective way to get potable, drinkable water.” He encouraged the City to get it fixed and said, “if all goes well and I sell more homes, I would bring more accounts to the service.”

Guy Forti owns an 1895 Victorian home in Russell Gulch and he said, “The water is a lifeline; getting water from Clear Creek is a safety hazard in the winter.” He would like to see the DA pursue restitution from the person who did the damage. “It’s not a privilege, it’s a necessity.”

Eric Erikson, a 14-year resident, had a different perspective relative to the difference in cost for water purchase between Central City and Idaho Springs. “There is a cost to that water,” he argued. “The repairs have already been paid for by the extra cost paid on Central City’s water versus Clear Creek’s water.  Follow the money!”

Jim Lewis began his address by thanking Central City for putting the Water General in. “It’s made our lives a lot easier and makes things really simple to live there.” He added, “Hauling water up the OMG road is a crazy situation, especially in the winter.”

Bill Williamson told the Council that “If Daniel (City Manager Miera) needs us to show up to the meeting with the County to help your efforts, a lot of us will show up there as well.”

Joyce White, a resident on Spruce Street, addressed the Council on a different subject matter. We have seen “such an increase in traffic and large trucks” on Spruce Street. “I’ve contacted the Sheriff several times; these cars are using it as a short cut.” Spruce Street starts just after Nevadaville on the Parkway and runs behind the commercial district before dropping dramatically behind the Opera House to meet Eureka Street. It is one of Central City’s famously narrow roads.

John Friery shifted gears and addressed Alderman Aiken specifically. Friery asked Aiken to remove the furniture from his front porch, provide a better living situation for his dog, and to remove his hat during meetings. Regarding the Belvidere Theatre, Friery had an opposing opinion from what is heard in council chambers. “Instead of painting, you should just let it fall down” and use the money for better things around the town. “If you look past the front door,” Friery added, “there is nothing left to it. It is unsafe; tear down the Belvidere.” John moved on to another topic entirely saying, “We are going to have a tremendous bill for repaving the Parkway – has any thought been given to that down the road?” He then gave a suggestion noting that “work sessions are not recorded, so that’s a lot of history going out the door,” and “it would be nice to know what you have said about the things you discuss.” Friery then introduced another topic regarding police reports; “I don’t see any reports in the Weekly Register-Call for Central City anymore.” At this point, Mr. Friery had gone over his three-minute time window and was cut off.

Annual Report – Historic Preservation

Director Rears presented the annual report from the Historic Preservation Commission which is required by the Land Development Code. The Commission reviewed 24 cases from shed demolition to solar panel installation and approved 22 of the 24. The Council had no additional questions for Rears.

Supporting Education

Manager Miera presented a request from Daniel Madrigal-Garcia for funding from the Central City Promise Program. This will be Daniel’s second year at Colorado State University and he is requesting $5,000 to help offset educational costs.

Daniel Madrigal-Garcia was in attendance and addressed the Council saying he was thankful for their help last year and is looking forward to another productive year.

Alderman Aiken moved to approve awarding Daniel $5,000 and was seconded simultaneously by Alderwomen Voorhies, Bell, and Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.

Central Supports Federal Fair Housing

Director Rears introduced Resolution 17-21 which would reaffirm the City’s support for the Federal Fair Housing Act. The City conditionally received a Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grant as long as the City agrees to actively promote the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which prohibits discrimination based on protected class. The City will also show support by hanging a poster in the lobby of City hall.

Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve Resolution 17-21 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Concrete Bid Awarded

Director Hoover introduced Resolution 17-22 which would award a bid on the Central City 2017 Concrete Flatwork Project to Fasick Concrete, Inc. The project will improve visibility; ramps, and repairs to concrete along Eureka Street from the Visitor’s Center west to County Road by Saint James Methodist Church. Alderman Aiken asked tangentially, “Will we pave from Century to Red Dolly?” Hoover answered yes the City will pave down to the ‘Y’ and Black Hawk with their project will be paving up to the ‘Y.’ Manager Miera added that the City will be paving Spring Street from Roworth to Gregory after the underground infrastructure is done.

Alderwoman Bell moved to approve Resolution 17-22 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.

No Duplication of Disaster Benefits

Director Rears introduced Resolution 17-23 which would adopt a Duplication of Benefits Policy for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Funding. This is a policy stating they do not have a duplication of benefits to provide assurance there is no double dipping.

Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve Resolution 17-23 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Staff Comments

Director Rears updated the Council on the wayfinding signage proposal. He provided Council with mock-ups of the signs to ensure he captured the intent of Council before installation. Mayor Heider pointed out that they added the campground symbol on Columbine Campground signs, but not with KOA. Rears said they will add that symbol. Alderwoman Bell suggested they abbreviate Apartments in ‘Gold Mountain Apartments’ instead of abbreviating Gold Mountain. Rears agreed they could change that, too.

Council Comments

Alderwoman Voorhies thanked Manager Miera for promptly getting on the Water General issue and getting answers to people. Miera thanked Director Jason Nelson and staff for getting that together for him.

Alderwoman Laratta commented that she is so disturbed by national politics that “we really need to take care of ourselves because no one else will.”

Public Forum

Mayor Heider 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

The Council moved to enter Executive Session at 8:02 pm to discuss legal questions concerning pending water rights cases and the James Peak/ Echo Lake matter and to discuss a property exchange request. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, September 19, 2017.

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