• 20211220-105454-882aed6383

City approves downtown master plan

The City Council has unanimously approved a downtown master plan, drafted by Studio Seed with input from Idaho Springs residents and business owners.

The plan’s goal is to get visitors to businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible, and includes ideas on how to improve downtown parking, transit and wayfinding.

Cheney Bostic, a consultant from Studio Seed, said at a Dec. 13 City Council meeting that the plan outlines ideas for a circulator transit system, better signage for those with RVs and trailers, and how to better activate the Idahoe Mall, among other items.

“We have had a lot of studies looking at different aspects of downtown,” Councilman Bob Bowland said. “It’s really nice to see a plan that brings all of these together, with an action plan moving forward both near- and longer-term.”

Bowland and Mayor Mike Hillman thanked Bostic and her team at Studio Seed for all their work, saying it’ll be a great foundation for the city to use.

Implementing the downtown master plan won’t require any new taxes, Bostic has previously stated, saying it would come from existing revenue streams.

She also previously emphasized that, while a parking structure is greatly needed, it won’t solve the problem alone. The city needs to make other improvements to its gateway area, signage and wayfinding.

More details on the downtown master plan are in the Dec. 13 City Council meeting packet, which is on the city’s website.

2022 budget approved

The City Council has unanimously approved the 2022 budget, which outlines water and sewer rate increases and raises for new Idaho Springs police officers, among other items.

The city’s 1% sales tax question on the Nov. 2 ballot, which would’ve helped offset water and wastewater rate increases, failed by two votes. Idaho Springs asked the County Clerk & Recorder’s Office to conduct a recount, but the results didn’t change, staff confirmed at a Dec. 13 City Council meeting.

Thus, officials anticipate adopting a 6% rate increase for water and a 24% one for wastewater this spring. Council members and staff clarified that the final decision rests with City Council, which will have to adopt rate increases by ordinance. If for some reason, council does not approve the ordinance, the 2022 budget will need to be amended, they confirmed.

Additionally, the city’s 2022 budget includes increasing ISPD officers’ starting salaries to $60,000 to help with hiring and retention, as recommended by Chief Nate Buseck. Current officers’ salaries were also adjusted for equity, staff confirmed.

Buseck thanked council for its support and said he’s optimistic the $60,000 base pay will help with hiring. He said someone graduating from academy is interested in joining ISPD, and the city might be hiring her on Jan. 3. He said he’d have more details closer to that date.

City pours another $9,000 into horseshoe court

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the City Council also approved spending another $8,987 for the forthcoming horseshoe court at Courtney-Ryley-Cooper Park.

The city already approved the project for $33,000 with a 10% contingency in late October.

However, City Administrator Andy Marsh explained that because the site wasn’t engineered, the slope was more than expected and curb walls on the lower side need to be higher than planned.

“So, they did not bid that amount,” he said of the contractor. “That was not in the (specifications).”

Marsh said the additional $9,000 will go toward higher curb walls and concrete pads, some of which will go under picnic tables. Having concrete under the tables will help secure them and improve maintenance, he commented.

The park had horseshoe pits before the Colorado Boulevard reconstruction a few years ago, and now the city is replacing them with a new court on the west side, across from the fire station.

These will be regulation-size for the National Horseshoe Pitching Association, and the city could host official events there.