by Rick Langenberg
Plans for another casino parking lot have received a less than enthusiastic response by Cripple Creek elected leaders and neighboring residents.
Last week, the CC Council unanimously agreed to delay until mid-August a bid by the Wildwood casino for an off-street, 40-vehicle commercial lot near Bison Street, proposed on a vacant area directly east of its gaming property. After hearing a few concerns voiced by local residents and city officials, the council wanted to receive more details from Wildwood officials regarding their latest parking venture. The Wildwood already has a substantial indoor parking garage and another outdoor parking area near the entrance to the casino.
The casino, in a letter submitted to the city, cited the proposed lot as a good community benefit by adding needed parking for special events, assisting the needs of certain bed and breakfast establishments and clearing up a vacant area that has collected much trash and debris. “There are many benefits to the city with moving forward with this project,” said Kevin Werner, vice-president and general manager of the Wildwood.
But due to a scheduling conflict, representatives of the Wildwood didn’t attend last week’s hearing. Several council members expressed surprise over the non-attendance of Wildwood officials, and were less than pleased with the sketch plan they submitted.
According to head city building and development official Kathy Stockton, this plan has generated many concerns from neighboring residents. “Do we really need another parking lot?” asked Deborah Petty, a former council member and a local resident who lives near the proposed site in a letter addressed to the city council. “Last night when I drove past the Wildwood’s outside parking area, there were only about six cars parked in it. Rarely do you see the other major lots full.” In addition, Petty expressed big concerns over public safety with many families and small children residing in this area of town. She also questioned if Bison Street could handle the extra traffic.
These points were stressed at last week’s hearing by nearby resident Lawrence Myers. He fears the new proposed parking hub may resemble a “used car lot” and become the site of a future farmer’s market and frequent outdoor casino–oriented events and festivities.“I want to make sure this is a parking lot and not a big party up there,” said Myers.
Like Petty, he questioned the need for another parking lot in this part of town and mentioned big safety concerns, with people having to cross the highway from the proposed lot to access the casino. “I personally don’t think they have met the parking lot requirements,” added the resident.
The council appeared to sympathize with Myers, and sought to receive more detailed plans before they could move forward with the request. “I see this as scribble on paper,” complained Mayor Pro Tem Steve Zoellner, in referring to the design plans of the casino. He indicated that the council really needs to hear directly from the Wildwood regarding their specific parking lot intentions.
In defending the Wildwood, Stockton told the council that casino representatives had a scheduling conflict and were hosting a major event that evening at their establishment, and so couldn’t attend the hearing. The council suggested tabling the matter to a later date so the Wildwood could provide more details.
Public Works Director Jim Blasing also expressed concerns about the parking lot request. He cited potential problems with safety and drainage. He noted that additional studies may have to be done, especially with people crossing the highway, which now belongs to the city under a new agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “I have a concern about the safety of the crosswalk,” said the public works director.
The parking lot request will come before the council again on Aug. 21.