Restoration guide revised

John Scarffe, Black Hawk.  The Black Hawk City Council approved the revised Community Restoration and Preservation Guide to Programs and the purchase of VHF radios for City communications during a regular meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 211 Church Street. During a work session, the Council discussed upcoming capital projects.


Mayor David Spellman opened the meeting with a moment of silence for his brother, Mark Spellman, who passed away recently. Mark helped sustain the volunteer Black Hawk Fire Department.


Cynthia Linker, community planning and development administrator, introduced the adoption of the two separate Guides to Programs for Rehabilitation Grant and Historic Preservation. The Historic Preservation Commission recommended approving a resolution adopting the revised Community Restoration and Preservation Guide to Programs, revised September 2017.


Linker said this was something brought before the Council in July. “Since that adoption, City staff discovered that all references to the provision of the Historic Preservation Easement Program that allows a property owner to seek a release of the Historic Preservation Easement after a period of 10 years, thereby causing such Historic Preservation Easements to remain perpetual, had not been deleted.” The revision accomplishes that task. The Council approved the resolution.


Fire Chief Don Taylor requested the purchase of 41VHF radios from QDS Communications, Inc., for an amount not to exceed $71,000. Taylor said it is within budget of the Fire Department and Public Works Department to replace the radios they were using, which have reached the end of their service life.


The total purchase of the new radios provides Fire with 25 radios and accessories, Police with 6 radios and accessories and Public Works with 10 radios and accessories, according to the request for Council action. The old radios will be transferred to an emergency cache of radios for a large-scale incident or disaster.


While Fire and Public Works are replacing all radios, the additional Police radios will complete a multi-year replacement plan.


All three departments will now have the same model radio for interoperability, according to the request.


Two vendors bid on the request for proposal which was sent to multiple vendors. QDS Communications, Inc. is an authorized Motorola vendor and provides support to the City radio system infrastructure.


The company has a significant history of providing this service to the City, Taylor said. The Council approved the purchase.


Before the meeting, Finance Director Lance Hillis led a capital workshop to learn the Council’s thoughts and priorities regarding capital projects for the next couple of years. He will get into more specifics with a proposed budget in two weeks.


From the General Fund, Hillis is proposing spending $10 million in capital projects, which would still leave more than $7 million, which is comfortable and pretty much an industry standard.


Mayor Spellman said it would be about a third of the operating expenses of the general fund. “We wouldn’t want to dip into that too much. We’ve been fortunate over the last few years. Revenue is coming in higher. We need to take care of some of the projects on that list.”


Hillis said there was no reason to carry a balance in the Capital Projects Fund, so in 2018 the City would spend the $10 million transfer from the General Fund and $5,000 in interest earnings.


The list of proposed projects starts with a fire station upgrade. Taylor said that currently the Fire Department staffs 10 people. Upstairs has one male and female bathroom with one shower.


The Fire Department experiences four hours of lost time every day because personnel need to grab a shower. He is looking at options to increase showers and facilities. Of three ideas, the proposed was the lowest in cost. Convert the third floor into two male bathrooms in lieu of building an extension.


They have nowhere to go with too much crammed in there right now, Taylor said. Building a second floor would have been very expensive so they are converting an attic. It will support the Department for a little while.


Spellman said it will be money well spent. Hillis said that, from the General Fund, $4.1 million will be budgeted for the St. Charles Parking Structure, reserving funds to be sure that project is complete. The Hidden Treasure Trailhead will be coming through the preservation fund.


Spellman said the budget makes a heavy dedication toward Gregory Street with $1.5 million at Shot Creek to be sculpted. Alderman Hal Midcap said this would simulate what we did at the Post Office.


Spellman said they would like to get a retaining wall by the tramway, so they were thinking a good estimate is $5 million. The City can’t use that area until they retain the hillside, and it’s a soft hillside.


Spellman asked the Aldermen if they were good with all of that, and they agreed that they were. Hillis then discussed the Preservation Fund, which includes the housing projects along Gregory Street. Spellman said: “If there is a blighted area in this city, it is committing to Gregory Street.”


The Gregory Street construction project didn’t do those homes any favors, Spellman said. “They are in pretty bad shape so it’s appropriate to rehabilitate those.”


Alderman Benito Torrez said the estimate is for $1 million each. Spellman said they are in a commercial setting, so they won’t have multiple restrooms, adding that the City has projects in 2019 and 2020 on Gregory Street.


Hillis said the Water Fund has a significant fund balance but he’s sure Public Works Director Thomas Isbester will be coming up with some stuff. “There was a time we were transferring over a half a million a year from the General Fund, so this is a relief for the General Fund. “


Spellman pointed out that none of this contemplates a tax increase in November. Hillis agreed and said this is as it is today.


City Manager Jack Lewis said that he and Isbester will have to sit down and see what can actually be done in a year. Spellman asked the Council if Gregory Street is the top priority, and the Aldermen agreed.


(Originally published in the October 12, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)