Black Hawk : Year in Review

John Scarffe, Black Hawk. 



The Black Hawk City Council voted to approve conducting elections by both mail ballot or at polling places during its regular meeting on Wednesday, January 13, at 3 p.m., at 211 Church Street. Since 1998 elections have been conducted by mail ballot only.

As recommended by the Historic Preservation Commission, the Council approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for the Demolition of Non-Historic Structures at 400 Chase Street. The applicants, Josh Smith and Mary Keefhus, are requesting partial demolition of two non-historic additions for the building located at 400 Chase Street, as well as demolition for the non-historic garage.

The Council approved a resolution authorizing a trade contractor agreement for the Dory Hill Treatment Plant Fire Suppression System with L. Nothhaft & Son, Inc., in the amount of $151,000. The Dory Hill Water Treatment Plant Fire Suppression System is required by the Fire Code as adopted by the City of Black Hawk.

The Council conducted a public hearing for a new Tavern Liquor License for Ameristar Lake Charles Holdings, LLC, dba Altitude Bar at 111 Richman Street, Ste. A. Ameristar submitted a permanent modification of premises application, which the Clerk’s office reviewed and forwarded to the State Liquor Enforcement Division.

Ameristar is proposing to remove the area defined as “Altitude Bar” from their current hotel and restaurant licensed area to license separately the Altitude Bar, so that they may apply for a Promotional Association and Common Consumption Area. The Council approved the license and also approved a request for a New Tavern Liquor License for Jan’s Tavern at 101 Gregory Street, Unit 1, set the boundaries of the neighborhood and set a date for a public hearing on February 24, 2016.

Another new Promotional Association and Common Consumption Area will come to Black Hawk, and five more will stay after the Black Hawk City Council meeting on January 27. The Front Range Entertainment District, LLC, became the newest business to request a Certification of a Promotional Association and Common Consumption Area.




The Council filled its four positions to be vacant in April and canceled the April elections on February 10. The Council approved a resolution canceling the April 5, 2016, election and declaring candidates for the City Council elected. The City has received the same number of candidate petitions and write-in affidavits as the number of offices to be filled at the April election as of the sixty-third day before the election.

The Council approved an exchange of real estate in Gilpin County between the City and Sandy Hoffman of Central City. Sandy Hoffman and Stephanie Kalafsky will exchange the mine at 497s Orion, 2.78 Acres in Gregory Gulch, with the City’s mine, 321 xL, 5.16 acres in the Russell Gulch Area.

The Council also approved buying real estate from AA&S for $12,400. Lewis said the property is a series of very small claims, and the trail goes by them.

In 2015 after reviewing fire alarm response data for 2013 and 2014, the City of Black Hawk Fire Department re-instituted fees for responding to false fire. This was done to recoup expenses derived from responding to these alarms and also to entice the property owner to maintain or upgrade their systems to reduce the number of false alarms received and responded to by the fire department.

An audit of the 2015 data has demonstrated the 2015 fee schedule has shown no reduction in false fire alarm responses. The fire department requested a modification to the established fee schedule to achieve the above goals, and the Council agreed, canceling the false fire alarm fees.

The Council received resolutions to repeal and waive taxes on February 24. Four resolutions came before the Board regarding City sales taxes for delivery, use taxes on construction and for hotel development.

The first would provide a temporary rebate for City sales tax on retail items delivered to city residential properties for personal consumption and use. The second would temporarily rebate city use tax on construction and building materials for residential projects within the City’s national historic landmark district.



The third resolution would encourage diversification of the City’s local economy by extending the waiver of taxes and impact fees for the development of hotels and other amenities and extending the waiver of use tax on other renovation projects. The fourth would temporarily rebate parking impact fees for the development of hotels and other amenities. The Council unanimously passed the four resolutions.

During a public hearing, the Council approved a New Tavern License for Jan’s Tavern, LLC, dba Jan’s Tavern, 101 Gregory Street, Unit #1. The Aldermen approved a resolution approving a license agreement between the City of Black Hawk and Josh Smith. The applicant is participating in the Historic Restoration and Community Preservation Program and it was discovered that three bridges crossing Chase Gulch encroach into the Chase Street right-of-way.

The Council approved resolutions reappointing Ronald W. Carlson to be the City of Black Hawk Municipal Court Judge and Thad Renaud as Assistant Municipal Court Judge.




An agreement to purchase the old clinic site for a surface parking lot faced delays on March 23. The property exchange agreement between Black Hawk and Smithrock, LLC, would be delayed until April 5 pending a City of Central Special Review Use.

The second phase of the improvements is scheduled for bid opening on April 1. Possession or an easement on this property will be required to make possible award of the second phase of the project. The actual exchange of property will be accomplished once the required improvements are completed on the clinic parcel and it is permitted for parking.

In the interim, temporary parking will be permitted on the property below Bobtail. The acquisition will be financed through the Gregory Street Redevelopment fund.

Ameristar Casino applied for a Site Development Plan and Certificate of Appropriateness for the Ameristar Sprung Building. The project proposes to permit the permanent use of an existing structure that has been operating with expired temporary use permits. No physical alterations are proposed to the existing site conditions, size of the existing Sprung structure or the existing materials.

The Council approved the site development plan. The Council also approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for the proposed St Charles Carriage House building and for the demolition of the existing Monarch Garage.




Mayor David Spellman and three aldermen took their oath of office for new terms on the Black Hawk City Council on April 13. Honorable Judge Ronald V. Carlson swore in Spellman and Paul G. Bennett, Gregory D. Moates and Benito Torres. All signed Oath of Office certificates for four-year terms.

Senior Civil Engineer Matt Reed introduced a resolution awarding the bid and approving the construction of the R.A. Clark Emergency Operations Center Project to Roche Constructors, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $1,662,700. Reed said the Council awarded the design contract to Roche Constructors in July 2015, with the intent of performing the work as a design and build project and has a building permit in hand.

Senior Civil Engineer Jim Ford introduced a resolution approving the agreement between the City of Black Hawk and Davis Custom Welding for construction of the Green Lake Pipeline Replacement Project Phase VI in an amount not to exceed $233,405.

Ford said he was excited that this was the last phase of the pipeline project. He said the project completely replaced the entire turn-of-the century riveted steel pipeline from Leavenworth Creek down to Green Lake.

A major construction project for the relocation of Gregory Street got under way on April 27. Senior Civil Engineer Matt Reed presented a resolution awarding the bid for construction of the Gregory Street Relocation project to Concrete Express, Inc. The bid is not to exceed $7,765,950.50, plus a materials testing allowance of $180,000.

The Gregory Street Relocation project will realign Gregory Street from Selak Street to Mountain City to create more space for commercial development. Water and sanitary sewer mains will be replaced from Selak Street to the Red Dolly Casino, and the existing flume will be reconstructed between Selak and Church Streets.

The Board approved awarding the bid to Concrete Express. After the meeting, Mayor David Spellman said this will be a massive project and could involve shutting down part of Gregory Street and rerouting traffic to Bobtail Street.

Cindy Linker with Community Planning and Development presented a resolution to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for the construction of the existing Gregory Street retaining walls. The certificate applies to multiple City-owned properties on the north side of Gregory Street between Selak and Church Streets, and on the south side of Gregory Street between Bobtail Road and High Street, according to the request.

The Board approved the Certificate of Appropriateness and also approved a certificate for rehabilitation of 400 Chase Street. Staff recommended approval on a conditional basis.



The preliminary design is nearing completion on the new trailhead and parking area at Hidden Treasure. On May 25, the Council awarded a contract for the processing and importing of material at the Hidden Treasure Trailhead Site.

The Council awarded the contract to Grapes and Sons Excavating in the amount of $72,000. The City owns more property along the highway, so it has an opportunity to maximize the parking area and potentially shorten a bridge crossing the highway.

The Board also awarded a bid to A-1 Chipseal for the Chip and Slurry Seal Project on Miners Mesa, Bobtail, Clear Creek, Marchant and Horn Streets in an amount not to exceed $132,645.30. Staff proposed that the City complete a Chip seal on the majority of Miners Mesa and all of Bobtail Road; also complete a Slurry seal on Clear Creek, Horn and Marchant Streets.

The Council approved a Water Storage Agreement with the City of Golden. Golden is required to deliver 125 acre feet of water to the City of Black Hawk each year. This water is typically provided from the Vidler Tunnel.




Reconstruction of an historic wall on Church Street and a house on Chase Street will begin after the Council meeting on June 8. The Council received requests for a Certificate of Appropriate application to rebuild a collapsed retaining wall at 251 Church Street and to award a bid for work at 400 Chase Street.

The Certificate of Appropriate application related to an Emergency Grant to rebuild a collapsed historic dry-stack retaining wall at 251 Church Street. The applicant, Eleanor Ceuleers, first reported the wall collapse on March 30, 2016.

The Council approved the rehabilitation of the historic home and property at 400 Chase Street to Big Valley Construction in a total amount not to exceed $854,308. The project consists of an interior grant of $283,100, and an exterior preservation easement in the amount of $571,208.

On June 6, 2016, the City of Black Hawk received an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness for a Standard Sign Plan from the manager of EAGLESmart, which opened off Highway 119 in Black Hawk during the week. The store is located between Mountain Mocha and the Post Office on the east side of Highway 119, 137A Clear Creek Street. The sign plan will allow installation of new advertising signs on the building.

The Council also received a request on June 22 for a Certificate of Appropriateness for the Comprehensive Sign Plan for the Monarch Casino. The Casino also requested a License Agreement for signage erected over city property. The Council approved the sign plan.

An ordinance establishing regulations for sand and oil separation received consideration during the regular Black Hawk City Council meeting on June 22. Currently, sand and oil generated from establishments such as automotive service and machine shops, car washes, parking garages, surface parking and restaurants are not regulated by the City.

Inappropriate discharge of sand and oil can get into surrounding streams, and that businesses with this discharge require maintenance and inspection. Staff brought the proposed ordinance before the Council to protect the health and cleanliness of local waterways and property in and around Black Hawk.

Alderman Hal Midcap asked why this was needed now. “If the businesses don’t have one already, are we going to require they get one? There are so many parking lots, I can’t imaginethey all have one.” The Council voted to approve the ordinance, with Midcap voting against it.

Reconstruction work continues on the historic structure at 400 Chase Street, and two action items regarding the work came before the Council on June 22. The Council approved the required agreements between the City and Josh Smith for the rehabilitation of 400 Chase Street. The Council also approved a Temporary Construction Easement for temporary construction laydown areas associated with the rehabilitation of 400 Chase Street.




A new fitness center in Black Hawk will help City employees stay in shape and meet their fitness goals. City officials cut a ribbon for the new center at the Barn, 470 Gregory Street, during a ceremony at 2 p.m. on July 23. The facility houses a weight bench, weights and several exercise machines.

The height of commercial mobile radio service facilities in Black Hawk got limited on July 13. City Attorney Corey Hoffmann proposed limiting all towers within public rights-of-way to 40 feet. Hoffmann told the Council that current activity in the telecommunications world led him to propose an amendment to the City’s ordinance regarding height limits for commercial mobile radio service facilities. The Council approved the height limitation.

Hoffmann also introduced an amendment to an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City and the Black Hawk Business Improvement District (BID) for increased marketing and promotion. The amendment increases annual funding and puts additional obligations on both parties.

Under the agreement, the City can’t impose the City’s lodging tax on hotel rooms provided on a complimentary basis, seek voter approval for a new tax or tax policy change that would allow the City to apply any new tax on complimentary items or to apply its existing sales tax or impose a use tax on complimentary items. The City also can’t increase the device fee or tax on slot machines for two years as long as the device count does not drop below 8,050 monthly. The Council approved the amendment.
Two Black Hawk casinos brought requests for exterior renovations and a summer barbecue to the Council on July 13. Monarch Casino requested a Certificate of Appropriateness for its exterior facade remodeling, and the Mardi Gras Casino requested a license for its Sounds of Summer barbecue after the County Fair.

The Council approved both. The Council received a request to approve a lease agreement at 271 Gregory Street for the Gregory Street Relocation project. The City requested the lease for Concrete Express, Inc., which is performing the relocation.

The Council approved the lease agreement. The Council also received a request to conditionally approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for the exterior alteration of the Carriage House at 100 Marchant Street. Mayor David D. Spellman requested the certificate and recused himself from taking part in Council action on the request.

The Council placed a one-half percent sales tax increase in the hands of voters on July 27. The Aldermen passed an ordinance that will create a special election to be coordinated with Gilpin County on November 8, 2016, and submitted a ballot question. Registered electors will vote on whether to allow a one-half percent increase in the sales tax imposed on the purchase of taxable goods and services.

The proceeds from the tax increase will be used to market and promote Black Hawk through fireworks displays, holiday light displays, public flower boxes and other general purposes. Hoffmann said the increase would generate a total of $290,000 to $320,000.

Hoffman also introduced an ordinance to clarify the location of the retail sale of gaming devices or gaming equipment. He said he doesn’t believe this is happening now, but it’s possible that a casino could try to take delivery of a gaming device in unincorporated Boulder County, and then Black Hawk wouldn’t be able to collect taxes on it.

The ordinance clarifies that gaming devices and gaming equipment can be taxed regardless of the location of the physical delivery. Hoffmann explained that the ordinance makes the location of the sale the place where it ends up, so it doesn’t matter if it’s delivered in Gilpin County.

The Council approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for the removal of three chimney stacks on the roof of City Hall at 201 Selak Street to provide a flat surface for a new roof treatment. The re-roofing by the Department of Public Works is a minor project and can be approved at staff level, according to the staff report, but removing the chimney stacks requires City Council approval.

The Council awarded the bid and contract to Encore Electric, Inc., for construction of the Central City Parking Lot Lighting project in the amount of $81,830.00. The City has obtained approval from Central City to construct a parking lot at the northwest corner of Gregory and High Streets, at the old clinic site.



The Black Hawk City Council took steps to acquire land on Maryland Mountain for a recreational trail on August 10. The properties are located along the old alignment for the tramway and will allow the trail to be established.

The Monarch Casino came before the Council again regarding renovations to its building. The casino requested a Certificate of Appropriateness, site development plan and a license agreement for a building encroachment at 488 Main Street.

All proposed renovations are for the exterior portion of the casino building. No interior renovations are proposed, according to the request. Monarch proposes re-facing the entire existing façade to match the architecture of the new garage that is under construction and ultimately the proposed new hotel tower.

City of Black Hawk voters will be asked in November whether the City should be authorized to provide broadband services at some point in the future. The Council placed the question on the ballot on August 24.

Gilpin County voters have already approved authorizing the County to provide broadband services, and the County is seeking a grant, Hoffmann said. This ballot question would authorize Black Hawk to provide broadband services but would not require it to provide those services. If the City wants to pursue this, it would require voter approval.

The Council awarded the contract with Master Security Center to upgrade the Water Department security and surveillance system in the amount of $43,089. The security and surveillance systems for the water plants and associated facilities are more than 14 years old. Multiple vendors are associated with the security depending on the site.

The Council awarded the 2016 Christmas decoration contract to Alpine Artisan Studios in the amount of $119,000. Isbester said the contract would be for washing, refurbishing and installing the decorations.




The final design for the Hidden Treasure Trailhead in Black Hawk could be complete by April. The Black Hawk City Council awarded a professional services agreement to Stolfus and Associates, Inc., in an amount not to exceed $150,515 on September 14.

This is the continuation of the preliminary design started one year ago. “The concepts surrounding the trailhead, parking lot and bridge are coming together,” according the request for Council action. “The parking site has had additional fill installed. We are at the point where we can complete the final design for the trailhead, parking area and connecting bridge over Highway 119 and North Clear Creek.”

The Council approved awarding the contract to PLM. The Council also approved the architectural design and construction administration contract with PEH Architects for the limited rehabilitation of the historic home and property at 241 Dubois Street in an amount not to exceed $126,256.

Lynette Hailey, district manager of the Black Hawk Business Improvement District, presented a request to appoint a new director for the District. Hailey said Scott Nelson left the director position, so the District would like to fill the vacancy with Walter Northscott (“North”) Grounsell, general manager of the Mardi Gras casino. The Council approved the appointment and the District’s 2017 Operating Plan and Budget.

The Monarch Casino in Black Hawk plans to demolish its parking structure through mechanical mechanisms and an implosion, so the Black Hawk Fire Department asked for some technical assistance. Chief Don Taylor requested approval of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Denver Fire Department for that assistance on September 28.

Chief Taylor requested an ordinance approving the IGA with the City and County of Denver for technical support for the planning process of the Monarch existing parking garage proposed implosion. Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade has offered his staff to assist with technical consultation during the planning and implosion process. Taylor estimated the cost for assistance should not exceed $5,000, and the Council approved the ordinance.

Taylor brought the Gilpin County Hazard Mitigation Plan to the Council for adoption. “During the last year the City of Black Hawk has been part of a joint effort with Clear Creek and Gilpin counties and their communities in the development of a natural hazards Hazard Mitigation Plan,” Taylor wrote in the request.

“This plan provides mitigation grant and recovery options to Gilpin County and the City of Black Hawk in the prevention (or reduction of impact) and recovery from a variety of potential natural disasters. The plan includes a 5-year action plan which identifies mitigation efforts (of which grant funding may be available to offset some costs).”

The Council approved an ordinance authorizing the necessary steps toward the acquisition of properties on Maryland Mountain along the tramway grade alignment. It will allow the trail to be established. City Attorney Corey Hoffmann said this ordinance authorizes the city to acquire two additional pieces of property to complete the trail and open space area.

In addition to being involved in the demolition IGA earlier in the meeting, the Monarch Casino brought two requests for the Council. The Casino requested an amendment to the Certificate of Appropriateness for the Monarch Hotel Tower, 488 Main Street.

Monarch also requested a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) Amendment. The request outlines a proposed amendment to the previously approved COA for the Monarch Casino Parking Garage Site Development Plan at 488 Main Street.

The proposed retaining wall would be located along the north side of the approved parking garage abutting Clear Creek. The Council approved both of the Casino’s requests.



The Council entertained a bid for roof replacement at the City Hall and the Hidden Valley Water Treatment Plant on October 12. Jim Ford told the Council that the city received five bids for the projects.

Arapahoe Roofing had the lowest bid and said they can get it done before winter. The Board approved the resolution awarding the bid to Arapahoe Roofing for the City Hall and Hidden Valley Water Treatment Plant Roof Replacement Project in the amount not to exceed $167,413.00.

City Manager Jack Lewis said he has a draft done of the 2016 to 2017 annual budget, and he was going to put it in online on October 13.

The Black Hawk City Council received a request to modify City codes to allow transfers of a retail liquor store and liquor licensed drugstores on October 26. The code changes would account for new liquor bills recently signed into law.

City Attorney Corey Hoffmann told the Council that the ordinance simply brings the City’s liquor codes in conformance with State law and grocery stores having full-strength beer, not that it applies to Black Hawk. The Colorado Legislature recently passed several new liquor laws, which require the City of Black Hawk to amend its Municipal Code to address liquor licensed drug stores and new liquor license – lodging and entertainment, effective August 10, 2016.

The Council approved the ordinance. The Council also approved an ordinance extending the electric and gas franchise granted by the City to Public Service Company of Colorado. The Electric and Gas Franchise Agreement granted by the City to Public Service Company of Colorado expired on October 6, 2016, Negotiations are still ongoing, and this ordinance would extend their current Franchise Agreement to and including January 5, 2017.




The Council approved the 2017 city budget and set the mill levy on November 9. Each Department’s budget is similar to 2016 with the exception of several items. The 2017 budget includes a total revenue projection of $27.3 million for all funds, a decrease of 2.4 percent compared to the estimated revenue for 2016.

Gaming Tax revenue is projected to be flat in 2017 compared to 2016 with roughly 8,050 devices in use into 2017. The Council approved the 2017 budget and set the general property tax mill levy at .036 mills for 2016, to be collected in 2017.

Realignment work continues on Gregory Street, the main street in the City of Black, and the Black Hawk City Council took action on two items related to the project on November 9. Gregory Street has been closed much of the summer and fall for the project and remains closed until November 23 for utility work. To complete the Gregory Street Relocation project, the existing grouted stone retaining wall on the west side of 241 Gregory Street must be removed.

A new concrete retaining wall with stone veneer will be constructed several feet west of the existing wall. The new wall will not permanently encroach onto the property known as 241 Gregory Street, but a Temporary Construction Easement is required during the construction process. The Temporary Construction Easement has been signed by the property owner, Bonanza Land, LLC, in consideration of $10.

The Council approved the temporary construction easement and a lease agreement with PCL Construction Services. Finance Director Lance Hillis requested a lease agreement for the property at 440 Gregory Street. PCL Construction Services will lease the property through the winter and during the demolition project.

Hillis also presented a lease agreement for ten parking spaces in the Briggs Parking Lot, 562 Gregory Street, with Bull Durham Saloon and Casino. Hillis said they will pay $3,000 per month, and the Council approved the agreement.

Community Planning and Development Administrator Cynthia Linker presented two housekeeping items for the property at 241 DuBoise Street. The Council approved the License Agreement from the City to Derek Blake for the property at 241 Dubois Street that encroaches into the City right-of-way.

The Monarch Casino requested a demolition permit during a special meeting on Monday, November 28, at 11 a.m. The Casino requested a resolution approving the demolition permit agreement between the City and Monarch Black Hawk, Inc., for the demolition of the existing monarch parking structure. According to the permit, Monarch has obtained the permit with conditions, and one of them requires the construction of a pedestrian sidewalk to allow pedestrian access on Main Street during demolition activities.

Monarch has been unable to acquire or otherwise secure the permission necessary to construct the temporary sidewalk, according to the permit, and seeks to provide a mechanism by which Monarch will cause all pedestrian traffic to be transported via a shuttle, and otherwise close the Demolition Permit Area to all pedestrian traffic.



A one-half percent sales tax approved by voters in November will take effect in January after approval by the Council on December 14. City Attorney Corey Hoffmann introduced the ordinance to increase the sales tax rate as approved by voters for purposes of marketing and promoting the City.

The purpose of this article is to impose a 4-1/2 percent sales tax on the sale of tangible personal property at retail and the furnishing of services and credit sales and exchanges of property at retail upon every retailer in the City, with the revenue generated by one-half percent of such tax being dedicated to marketing and promoting the City through fireworks displays, holiday light displays, public flower boxes and other general governmental purposes, according to the ordinance.

The Council approved the ordinance and another to adjust the transportation device fee payment due dates and to implement an increase in the gaming device tax with an associated rebate. With the recent decline in the number of devices available for play in Black Hawk, changes to device fees are necessary to balance the budget.

“Additionally, a rebate mechanism has been developed to insure the City collects budgeted revenue, but not more,” according to the request. Hoffmann said the City has a revenue number it seeks to achieve based on device tax, but the amount fluctuates.

The Council approved the 2017 City of Black Hawk Fee Schedule for liquor licenses, business licenses and permits. Hillis said a lot of it was more clean up than anything. The Council approved a resolution to convert the City’s cobra head style street lights from high pressure sodium (HPS) to new light emitting diode (L.E.D.) under option A of the Street Light Program.