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Staff proposes archway, new street signs for downtown

Idaho Springs staff members have assembled ideas for new street signs, bike racks and other amenities in downtown as part of the 2020 improvement project.

The city recently received a $50,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to fund downtown improvements that must be used by the end of 2020.

During an Oct. 12 City Council work session, Assistant City Administrator Jonathan Cain said he’s found major savings for new street signs, which will be unique to the historic district as they’re dark in color with white reflective lettering. He had budgeted about $400 per sign but was able to find them for about $150.

Cain said he’d like to use the savings to purchase an archway sign, similar to one previously near Safeway. Depending on whether the city could reuse some of its old materials, the archway would cost about $16,000.

Council members Bob Bowland and Chuck Harmon said they liked the archway-sign idea, and Mayor Mike Hillman said the idea was nothing new, commenting, “We’ve talked about putting them at all three ends of town before.”

Harmon suggested donating the old street signs to the historical society or another nonprofit, so they could be auctioned off during a fundraiser, and Cain said he’s already looked into doing that.

City applying for federal recovery funds

Idaho Springs has applied for at least $350,000 in federal recovery funds to help its residents and businesses during the winter months and to continue routine city functions during the pandemic.

The city submitted its application last week. If successful, the money would need to be spent by the end of 2020.

Assistant City Administrator Jonathan Cain said about $250,000 would go toward helping Idaho Springs businesses survive through the winter. The city has an idea of how much would go to each business because they’ve already applied for grants through the county.

“But there are more needs than there are funds,” he said, adding that, if the city’s application is successful, that money could make up the difference. “… We already have applications, so the consideration process wouldn’t take as long.”

In addition to supporting businesses, Cain said he also anticipates a residential assist fund, which would include buying Safeway gift cards for those in need. He’d also like to buy digital message boards and laptops for City Council members to use for virtual meetings and digital message boards.

Last on the list would be a new truck and plow for public works, which would help ensure that downtown’s snow and ice is removed in a timely fashion. This would be important, Cain said, because people wouldn’t be able to stand inside local restaurants while waiting for tables.

“If we can upgrade our snow removal downtown, that would help our businesses,” he continued.

City considering partnership for electric vehicle charging stations

The City Council has voted 4-3 to enter into a memorandum of understanding with ChargePoint, a company that wants to install fast-charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot behind Westbound & Down Brewing Co.

ChargePoint will undergo additional review processes with state and city officials, and Mayor Mike Hillman clarified that the city hasn’t given the project its final approval.

Matt Geise of ChargePoint explained during the Oct. 12 meeting that his company received state grant funding to install charging stations along six corridors throughout Colorado.

The eight charging stations downtown would charge electric vehicles in 15-90 minutes, depending on the vehicle, he said. They would ultimately take up nine or nine-and-a-half parking spots, he said, emphasizing that the city wouldn’t be paying for the stations but only providing the land.

Several council members disliked the idea, saying every downtown parking space counts.

“We’re losing eight spots to a particular brand or brands of vehicles only,” said council member Jim Clark, who voted against it along with Arthur Caccavale and John Curtis.

Geise said this location would be ideal for ChargePoint because it’s close to power lines. The company considered other spots, but they proved more challenging because of parking constraints or geography.

Jonathan Cain, assistant city administrator, said the city should consider the partnership now before costs go up as demand increases and it has to do it on its own. It would also benefit city residents as well as visitors with electric vehicles.

Council member Scott Pennell commented: “I think (the demand)’s a thing that’s coming, and we can’t avoid it. I can see us putting in a phase two as more electric cars are out there.”

Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-567-4491 or cwesteman@evergreenco.com, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.