Creek Civic Leader Veteran Calls It Quits; Questions City’s Agenda


Selection of relatives of council members in question:

by Rick Langenberg:


Selection of relatives of council members in question:
Springtime has been a rough time for key resignations of civic leaders in several local communities.

Besides Green Mountain Falls, which has experienced a flurry of prompt exits by local government workers (see related story), a mini-controversy has occurred in Cripple Creek regarding the appointment of its advisory boards and the selection of relatives of council members.

Deb Petty, a former council member and historic preservation committee member for nearly 20 years, recently called it quits. Petty, who had served as the chairperson of the historic commission, also questioned the vision of local leaders and their actions in overturning the recommendations of the preservation group. She also regrets decisions that she believes could cross the line in preserving the town?s historic integrity. “It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation, effective immediately,” said Petty, in a letter submitted to the council. “I no longer believe that I share the same vision for the future of Cripple Creek as our city leaders and I no longer feel that I can serve as a useful member of the historic preservation board. There have been several decisions made in the last year that I don’t believe were in the best interest of the historic integrity of our town and I have a serious problem with the council appointing relatives to their advisory boards; if nothing else the public perception could be injurious to the council and board and our standing with the state HP (Historic Preservation).”

Although not mentioned specifically in her letter, Petty was referring to the recent appointment of Melissa “Missy” Trenary as a regular historic preservation commission member. Trenary is related to Mayor Bruce Brown, and has headed his council and mayoral efforts for the last two campaigns.

Petty objected to this appointment and believes it sends the wrong message. It differed from the recommendations made by the historic committee, which proposed to designate Trenary as an alternate member of the board. In addition, Petty, in a later interview, suggested that the city council lacks an overall vision for which direction the town needs to pursue. “The city council needs to take a hard look at what it is it wants to achieve,” she added.
Petty doesn’t believe that city leaders have done enough to promote tourism and to diversify the economy. With gaming numbers continuing to decline, she believes this downward economic plight has become a growing concern. Plus, she indicates that some of the decisions by the city in the last year have “blurred the lines?” regarding what is acceptable from a historic standpoint.
Petty, who served on the city council for six years, is a big supporter of the Cripple Creek Heritage Center, despite some reservations about this facility from the current council. “I still stand strongly behind that project,” said Petty. “I think it was a good thing for the city.” Moreover, she regrets that the city couldn’t lay the groundwork for developing a convention center; a project she believes would have attracted a lot more people to town.

In the last few years, some residents and city employees have contacted The Mountain Jackpot and have questioned the lack of support by the council towards the heritage center due to the fact that the facility was promoted by a previous administration.
On the upside, Petty strongly agrees with the council in its decision to do a $4.5 million main street makeover. “I do look forward to the restoration and beautification of Bennett Avenue; it is a project long in the making,” said the former historic preservation chairperson in her letter.

During last week’s regular meeting, the council didn’t mention Petty’s resignation letter and promptly decided to pick a replacement. Reed Grainger was selected as the new chairman and several small lineup changes were made, resulting from Petty?s departure.

In a later interview, City Administrator Ray White didn’t see any problems with the appointment of Trenary as a regular member of the historic preservation commission. “There were no concerns with nepotism whatsoever,” said White. The city administrator noted that members of the advisory board don’t receive any compensation.
He regretted Petty’s decision to resign, but the administrator stood behind the selection of Trenary as a regular board member.
“Missy (Trenary) has been a resident of this town for many years and is quite knowledgeable about history,” said White, who cited her work with the Cripple Creek District Museum.