John Scarffe, Gilpin County. The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners discussed purchasing or moving the historic Red Tail Cabins during a special meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at the Gilpin County Courthouse. The Board also discussed the project to enlarge Gross Reservoir through South Boulder Creek.
Owners of the Red Tail Cabins, located off Robinson Hill Road, want to move or demolish the cabins, and the Board has offered County-owned land in Colorado Sierra to which the cabins could be moved. Board Chair Gail Watson said she received an email from the owners, and they declined the offer of the Colorado Sierra land.
For $50,000 they would sell the cabins and the land to the County, Watson said. It would cost $59,000 to move the cabins with non-historic frames and $35,000 without the frames. The County’s Historic Preservation Commission is in favor of and supports the County purchase and preservation of the cabins, but one member voted against it.
The County had a 120-day stay to make a decision on the cabins, and they are now past that, Watson said. A preservation grant is available for acquisition.
County Attorney Jim Petrock said the owners have made an offer to sell, but it is not a contract. Commissioner Ron Engels asked what process they would need for stabilization so ongoing expenses are mitigated.
The cabins have been in a family for a long time but they were going to scrape them, Watson said. Moving those takes away from the historic value and costs as much as buying them.
Engels asked that, if they scrape them, how would the owners move forward? They would need an easement. Petrock agreed that an easement on record would be required.
Watson said the County has $50,000 from the Lincoln Hills Historic District for an impact fee. Engels said he is not willing to have the County purchase the cabins, but someone should pursue this. What would acquisition of the property look like?
Petrock said that this is something for the new County manager to pursue. The County doesn’t have the authority to stop the scraping. Watson asked if they could pass a memorandum of understanding that they are working on it, and Engels said the Board is interested in the offer but can they have some length of time?
Commissioner Linda Isenhart said the Board needs to understand more about it. They have said they would open the site to veterans and school children. They could promote the cabins sitting out in the middle of nowhere as an historic tour.
Engles said it is a maintenance issue, and how would they let people know the cabins are out there? Watson said that the site is not that remote. Are we willing to get an appraisal? Engels said a fair market value of the property isn’t actually the fair market value.
Clerk and Recorder Colleen Stewart reminded the Board that the Thorn Lake School, the only historic school house left in Gilpin County, was put on a trailer and moved. It’s still sitting there. It has been moved twice and it’s deteriorating.
Petrock asked if the Commissioners have considered selling the Colorado Sierra property. Watson said they should get that appraised too.
Engels said he has been thinking about several parcels on and about Marilyn Mountain in Black Hawk. The Black Hawk City Council is working on buying property there for an open space and trails project. The County has larger parcels there that might be more valuable.
Watson said if they can’t find that land it would have to be surveyed. No one can find those properties. Engels said at some point they will have to survey it.
Watson suggested contacting two or three real estate agents and looking at comparable prices for the Red Tail property. Engels said they could contact a couple of appraisers to find out what that would cost to be sure they are spending their money wisely.
Isenhart said she would like to know the value of the cabins. She loves the cabins and would put them in her yard if she could. They should get appraisals on both properties.
Engels moved to authorize an appraisal on the Red Tail Cabins, and the Board approved the motion.
Watson said that the Army Corps of Engineers and Denver Water are moving forward with expanding Gross Reservoir, and they will be channeling South Boulder Creek so it floods. “What happens to Gilpin County? Grand County is getting paid, but the headwaters of the South Boulder Creek are in Gilpin County.”
Petrock said they plan to triple the size of the reservoir, and that’s huge. Watson asked how many years it will take to fill it, and Petrock replied they could do it in one year.
“Can we say we’re concerned about South Boulder Creek?” Watson asked. “Can we get a concession from them?” Petrock said they purchased the rights for all that, and we don’t have a whole lot to say.
Watson suggested a letter from the Commissioners that we are concerned about the habitat. Petrock said: “All of those issues have been addressed. I will get a copy. It’s been beaten to death.”
Watson said it will be a huge issue, and the County needs to watch out for its interests.
It’s a conversation for the County manager. The County has a grant from United Power of $3,000 to $5,000 to stabilize the work camp at the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel.
Bigger grants may come to the table, Watson said. “Hopefully this may get their attention.”
(Originally published in the July 27, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)