Mining, future lodging and recreation could top issues for Cripple Creek

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

The city of Cripple Creek will face some big challenges next year, in their dealings with the almighty dollar and with some key development projects.

In addition, the town may to try to hit the recreation jackpot big-time, in an effort to generate more non-gaming activity. And for the first time in years, city leaders and residents must confront an active mining project in their backyard, courtesy of the Globe Hill expansion by the Newmont Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine. Plus, the city has a much different council makeup than past years, with the addition of newly-elected members Melissa Trenary and Meghan Rozell

These are some of the main issues confronting the gaming community in 2018.

Last year, the city emerged finally as a big winner in its continual campaign to get more money for special events and marketing and community development, with the voters passing a six percent lodging tax, assessed on overnight paid rooms. Officials don’t expect to reap that many benefits in 2018, but the groundwork could be set for considerable extra revenue in future years, now capped at about $600,000 per year.

Several gaming establishments, such as Bronco Billy’s and Century casinos, are planning on developing new elaborate lodging projects, a scenario that could offer the town much more revenue down the road.

If the lodging tax had failed, the city would have been poised to make cuts in services and programs. However, even with the passage of the lodging tax, city officials could face more scrutiny over how these extra monies are spent. Marketing and special events are subjects that have prompted many debates in the past.

On the recreation front, the city will soon cut the ribbon for its new adventure park, featuring an 18-hole disc golf course, a dog park, sledding area and many new trail hubs. This is part of a growing bid to make Cripple Creek into more of a recreational mecca.

The city also may finalize plans for the Ring the Peak link in the Gillette area, close to the town’s reservoirs.  This section is one of the last remaining gaps In the Ring the Peak trail network, dealing with routes that compliment America’s greatest mountain.

A community forum was conducted in November regarding routes suggested by a trails coalition in the Pikes Peak region.  City officials, though, favor a link that would bring hikers closer to the communities of Cripple Creek and Victor.

Mining could also be a hotbed issue next year, with many Cripple Creek residents still questioning aspects of the Globe Hill mining project, located directly across from the Heritage Center. Concerns have mounted over noise, blasting, lighting and environmental impacts. However, this mining venture, part of CC&V’s life extension, was approved by local and state authorities more than five years ago.

Plus, in the most recent community meeting in Cripple Creek, hardly any residents expressed concerns regarding CC&V’s newest project.  CC&V has run a number of local forums regarding their mining activities throughout the district. 

Lodging could also emerge as a contentious issue in 2018. Full House Resorts, the owners of Bronco Billy’s, has proposed an elaborate 150-room, four-star development. But with this bid, Full House has asked for the vacation of a fairly large street area, near the old Gold Rush property. This could result in some testy hearings with the Historic Preservation Commission. This vacation request would allow Bronco Billy’s to occupy a growing downtown spot.

And courtesy of a recent audit, the city may face more scrutiny regarding how it spends its historic preservation dollars. A recent audit suggested that too much of the city’s historic preservation funds are being allocated towards projects  that don’t necessary meet the needs of this definition. This could eventually impact such pursuits as the operations of local museums and the running of classic melodrama shows at the Butte Theater.  The latter option also will feature the first new company to run the Butte in 10 years.