City cautiously moving forward with new combined City Hall, fire station as options for space run dry
When presented with two options for a new fire station, Steamboat Springs City Council members Tuesday were not highly enthusiastic with either but agreed a location on 10th Street is preferable over redoing the current station on Yampa Street.
Voters passed a 2-mill property tax in 2019 to fund a new station, which city staff said was necessary to house 20 full-time equivalent staff members by 2025.
While the city currently owns both the space at 840 Yampa St. and the proposed space on 10th Street, council members felt a fire station on Yampa would not fit the feel of such a vibrant street, particularly as Steamboat continues to grow. Rather, members said, the city should tear down the current City Hall and build a larger building to house city staff as well as fire, search and rescue and EMS, along with being a place to host other community events.
“We have a one-story building across the street that is an inefficient use of downtown,” council member Michael Buccino said. “This could all of the sudden become City Hall, the fire station and a communal place to do stuff.”
Buccino, who is also an interior designer and developer, said the current city building is “an eyesore,” and replacing it with a nicer building, while allowing the Yampa Street space to house a business, makes more sense for the city in the long term.
“I’m sure City Hall was great in the ’70s, but now it’s time to move along,” Buccino said. “As a designer, I look at this, and I feel solidly about it.”
Other council members did not feel as enthusiastic as Buccino and said neither location was ideal.
“We’ve looked at every available parcel in the downtown area, and there’s no perfect solution out there,” council member Kathi Meyer said. “All of these choices have problems with them.”
While the city has not figured an exact cost, Deputy City Manager Tom Leeson told council members the 10th Street location would cost more to build, but council members agreed it was worth the investment, especially if they are able to sell the Yampa Street location for a higher price.
Council members also agreed the mill levy passed in 2019 likely would not cover the entire cost, but they were hesitant about asking voters for additional funds and suggested looking into grants and other funding sources. While the station could not be built until council members secure funding, most agreed building sooner rather than later is ideal, as staff members who would be impacted by construction have gotten used to working remotely due to COVID-19.
“Now is a better time than any because we can still run City Hall while there’s construction,“ Buccino said.
Council members also previously discussed spaces on Third Street and 1125 Lincoln Ave., though those sites were voted down in the past.
If moving forward with the 10th Street space, the city would sell the current land on Yampa, and council members said Big Agnes has expressed interest.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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