Curse of former mayor haunts city
~ by Rick Langabis ~ (Crackpot Story)
The Cripple Creek Heritage will shut its doors at the end of April for several months, as part of a new remodeling and revamping project that will drastically change the look of the several-floor tourism facility, constructed in 2007. Details are still sketchy, but the facility, once dubbed as the dream of a bid to resurrect and diversify the local economy through heritage tourism, will get converted into the new Cripple Creek Cannabis Club and Cultivation Society, a $30 million project focusing on the social, historical and commercial aspects of the booming marijuana industry. Colorado Governor John Hickenloopar, a prospective Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election, will serve as the keynote speaker later this month during a groundbreaking ceremony. The new change is part of an old special district zoning law, establishing the creation of a municipal district around the Heritage Center area. This law was implemented originally when the building was constructed by family members of former Cripple Creek Mayor Ed Libbie, who served as the town’s mayor from 2003 to 2007. They wanted to forgo the normal inspection process for the heritage center facility.
Under this legal pact, any entity that acquired the property would become the sole voter for the district regarding decisions pertaining to its future use. The Cripple Creek City Council recently voted to affirm its anti-marijuana regulations pertaining to both medical and recreational outlets and for the commercial growth of cannabis within the city limits..
But the heritage facility is located outside the city limits and is part of a special municipal district, governed by operators/owners of the property. As a result, city leaders now have no say regarding the future of the building and its associated property area.
“We are cursed again by Libbieville,” said a frustrated Mayor Bruce Brownn, who usually takes a low-key stance regarding controversial issues.
“There is nothing that can be done. The law is the law, and we were presented with a real estate deal that just couldn’t be overlooked,” said Cripple Creek City Administrator Ray Duboise. “The council’s recent vote on the marijuana issue means nothing. The council’s hands are tied.”
Duboise is hoping to construct a lease deal with the new building owners to have a partial tourism display area, located in part of the facility. But no guarantees have been provided.
“This is absurd,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Zallner. “We are a patriotic town.”
However, a consultant for the new owners, Dr. John Jonas, has vowed to have marching bands there, at least three times a month, and will invite the promoter of the Salute to American Veterans Rally, Jim Ware, for occasional inspirational talks. Jonas said the new California-based owners have ambitious plans for the facility, including a special historic attraction outlining the growth of the industry in Colorado. “This is now part of the town’s heritage,” said Jonas.
Kip Petersonn, a former Cripple Creek city manager, who left the city’s services during the controversy dealing with the original construction of the heritage center, expressed little surprise at the development
“I knew something like this could happen with the special laws and unusual land use rights for the (Heritage Center) property. There were a lot more problems with that facility than just the possibility of faulty elevators and frequent code violations. Unfortunately, the city got what they deserve.”
Petersonn now works as the tour director for the new Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman, Yes spin-off band that has been commanding much attention among baby-boomer progressive rock fans. He will submit 12,000 petitions in favor of the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month.
Opponents of the pot club are eying a petition drive of their own, but they face an uphill battle. “This property is not part of the city. It operates by its own by-laws and that includes the ability to legalize retail marijuana,” said city attorney Lee Philaps. “I agreed with Ray. There is nothing we can do.”
“This is great,”said Melissa Tenary, a local resident for decades, and member of the city’s historic preservation commission. “Retail marijuana would work well for Cripple Creek.”
I never though Ed Libbie would do anything that would indirectly support any of my views. But I guess I was wrong.”
‘I always said that scum should have been gunned down in the middle of Bennett Avenue,” said former mayor and councilman Terry Wahre, when informed of the latest development, and in reference to his good friend Ed Libbie. “Why did we ever get rid of a law that bans public hangings at council meetings,” blasted Wahre.
With the new Cripple Creek Cannabis Club, an estimated 750 plants are slated to grow by the end of the year. The new aroma should be prevalent by the end of May.