CC acts on historic preservation grant changes

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The third time might be a charm of the Pioneer Group when it comes to expanding Bronco Billy's Casino.

At the March 20 Cripple Creek City Council, Marc Murphy asked for and received approval of a “certificate of appropriateness” to demolish the one-story building at 253 E. Bennett Ave. This building was approved for demolition twice before, once in 2002 and again in 2007.

Murphy explained that in 2002, the company decided the project was too ambitious. The expansion planned after the 2007 council approval was stopped by the economic downturn.

As part of the approval, the group will replicate the building's existing historical elements: the brick parapet and vertical brick columns, for example, but not the windows, which are not historical. Murphy said construction will start as soon as possible after building plans are approved.

“We might be done by this fall,” he said. “We're expanding our table games and some of our slots into the new space.”

City Administrator Ray White reported on changes to the city's historic preservation grant program guidelines. The changes, which were recommended by the Historic Preservation Committee, include raising the grant limits by several thousands of dollars. This would be an incentive to get more people to seek help in preserving their historic properties, White said. Full-time and seasonal owner-occupied residential properties, in that order, will have priority.

Residential rental buildings are commercial properties and the change for this group is that grants will not differentiate between single and multiple property owners.

“We're using the grants to protect historic structures not their owners,” White said.

He added that projects with special merit or historic significance will take precedence and that decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Language to that effect will be added to the 2013 grant applications, which are due March 25-April 24.

He also announced that, because of short staffing, for the next two weeks the city clerk's office will open an hour later at 8 a.m. and close an hour earlier at 4 p.m.

Council also approved a six-year debt-service plan for about $370,000 to buy a new pumper truck for the city fire department. It will take about six months for Pierce Manufacturing to build the truck to the city's specifications. The department was able to save money by using some of its own equipment on the truck and will be seeking grants to buy more equipment when the new truck arrives. Fire Chief Randy Baldwin said that such trucks usually cost somewhere in the range of $500,000.