Catching up in Black Hawk

Lynn Hirshman

Black Hawk


Over the last month, the Black Hawk City Council has met three times. In summary:


August 28


Council held a public hearing and then approved a proposal to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior improvements for the Police Department building at 221 Church Street. The changes would include replacing windows with historical ones, replacing the roof, and repainting.

Another public hearing was held regarding Ordinance CB 41 , which allows the City to hold its own election, and designate it as a polling place election. This, according to City Attorney Cory Hoffman, means that the election does not have to be coordinated with the County.  The ordinance also sets the three ballot questions to be placed on the November ballot.

CB 42, which ratifies the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Gilpin County, also featured a public hearing. This addressed the County sending out the Tabor Notices for the November election. The motion passed.

Unsurprisingly, Council also approved the annual renewal for the City’s holiday decorations. Public Works Director Tom Isbester explained that there would also be some changes. Some of the proposed additional items include additional garlands for the tall street lights on Lower Main, additional cabling to synchronize some of the wall wash-lighting on the Police Department and new Council chambers, brackets to move the “Merry Christmas” to Lower Main Street bridge, new sprays for commercial buildings and post office, new rope lighting for City Hall, additional LED tree lighting in the parks, and the installation of a new 28-piece lit snowflake feature along the rock wall above the post office building.

The final action item involved approval of HVAC Improvement Projects to 221 Church Street – BID.


September 11


After a public hearing, Council approved CB 43, an ordinance approving the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Colorado Judicial Department, First Judicial District; and Gilpin County and the City of Black Hawk, regarding the use of courtroom facilities.

The City entered into an agreement with the Colorado Judicial Department and the County of Gilpin to move Black Hawk Municipal Court hearings to the Gilpin County Justice Center until an extensive remodeling project was completed in 2013. After the City remodeled its previous municipal court location, it found the facility could no longer support those functions. As a result,

the City of Black Hawk requested its agreement with the Parties be continued under a new

agreement. The City intends to regularly use a courtroom at the Gilpin County Justice Center on the third Thursday of each month from approximately 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

CB 44 approved the 2014 Operating Plan and Budget for the Black Hawk Business Improvement District. Mayor David Spellman explained that this was “a yearly housekeeping item.” The ordinance passed.

Heralding a major change in the appearance of the City’s entrance, Council next addressed the rebranding of the Riviera. Resolution 35-2013 conditionally approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for a comprehensive sign plan for the Monarch Hotel and Casino. The resolution includes the license agreement for the two signs over the Main Street right of way. With no one speaking at the public hearing, Council passed the resolution.


September 25—Inaugurating the new Council Chambers


In their new chambers in the Council building on Church Street for the first time, Council members gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to Mayor Spellman’s question if it was worth the wait. Spellman stated that what this project represents to the City of Black Hawk is “a remarkable repurposing of one of the most historical and iconic buildings in the City of Black Hawk.” He then explained that it is extraordinary to think the entire second floor Council Chambers did not exist prior to this project.  It was all attic space.  Today this building is as much a museum as it is a public meeting room.

He stated that some of the City’s artifacts are on the walls, and that there would be additions. Two of the survey maps date to 1866 and the other 1896.  Those were the surveys the Council at the time would have looked at when discussing the City. The City’s Charter from 1864 is hanging up in hallway.  It will really be a museum.

Spellman thanked Baseline, PEH Architect, Project Manager Reed, Community Planning and Development Administrator Cynthia Linker, Public Works staff, and Three Gables for helping make this project happen.

He explained that with all the projects the City has accomplished since the inception of gaming, this one is where the City should “be proud, very proud” of this project, as well as the remarkable technology in the Council Chambers for information to be displayed on TV monitors. He stated that this project represents the manifestation of the City’s motto, “Preserving the Past, Preparing for the Future, and Still Making History.”

Spellman announced that the City will start a new tradition.  “From now on, to open every City Council Meeting we will ring the bell dated 1868.” He thanked Administrative Assistant Tami Archer for researching the bell and all her other help with the project.

To inaugurate the date, William and Dolores Spellman, Mayor Spellman’s parents, rang the bell.  Mrs. Spellman has been referred to as Mother Black Hawk.



September 25—the meeting


The formal meeting began with the presentation of CB 45, an ordinance amending the Municipal Code by adding a new article regarding Retail Marijuana Establishments.

City Attorney Hoffman explained that the City had to decide by October 1 whether to allow retail marijuana establishments within the City. Currently, he said, the City has a moratorium. If the City does nothing, then the decision remains not to permit these businesses. If the ordinance were to be adopted, it would allow retail marijuana establishments in the City and licensed by the City in addition to State licensing.

The ordinance contains “a whole host of regulations,” incorporating State regulations. In other words, City regulations would not be different from those of the State. If Council accepts the ordinance, he said, the next step would be to rezone the HARD District to allow for these businesses.

A public hearing brought forth no speakers, and the Council passed the ordinance unanimously.

Moving to action items, Council next dealt with an issue regarding the expansion of the Monarch Hotel and Casino. Hoffman noted that on September 14, the Gilpin County court granted Black Hawk possession of property needed for Monarch’s expansion. Currently, under City Code, a plat is needed that must be signed off by all property owners. There is a portion of property not owned by Monarch or the City.

The resolution, 36-2013, would allow Monarch to move forward with construction, given the fact that the City has been granted possession of this piece of property. However, Hoffman has received a letter from the attorney of the owner of this piece of property, stating that the owner opposes the City’s proposed resolution. The letter stated that the owner will request the Supreme Court to issue a stay of the trial court’s possession order.

Hoffman said that Council can adopt the resolution, although there is “a whole host of things Monarch needs to do before this will actually happen”; or Council can defer the decision. He reminded Council that they have a court order stating the City does have possession of the property.

The resolution passed unanimously and without  discussion.


The next regular meeting of the Black Hawk City Council will take place at 3:00 p.m. on October 9 in the new council chambers.