City Council pivots back toward joint law enforcement facility
Steamboat Springs — Sheriff’s deputies and police officers in Steamboat Springs are now closer than ever to the prospect of working together under the same roof.
The idea of a joint law enforcement facility on the west side of Steamboat, which appeared to be dead as recently as May, was picked back up and given new life Tuesday night by elected officials in Citizens Hall.
Armed with some new cost estimates and a resolve from county officials to share space in the facility, a majority of Steamboat City Council members said the city should focus its efforts in the coming months to make the idea a reality.
Council members also expressed a willingness to create a smaller satellite police office to alleviate concerns about a station being placed on the west side of the city and further away from where a majority of police calls originate.
In the coming weeks, the city will look into how some hurdles, such as poor cell phone reception on the west end of the city, could be mitigated so that a law enforcement campus could be created.
“Government collaboration like this would be a real success,” Council President Walter Magill said. “I think this location would grow into itself over time.”
The council eliminated downtown police station sites from contention.
Magill was so supportive of the site next to the Routt County Jail that he was prepared to eliminate all other potential police station sites from consideration.
A citizens committee that helped the city plan for a new police station recommended the city build a shared facility with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.
Although the full facility the council is currently considering would not be shared when it is first constructed, council members said Tuesday the facility could become more collaborative over time.
They believe increased cooperation between the Sheriff’s Office and the police department outweigh any complications from the facility being located in west Steamboat.
While a majority of other council members shared Magill’s preference for the facility, they were not ready to drop a standalone police station site on U.S. Highway 40 just south of the Hampton Inn from consideration just yet.
City staff will continue to investigate both sites, with the U.S. 40 site being viewed as a backup.
The joint campus site in west Steamboat was recently appraised at $780,000, or about $15 per square foot. But Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said the county would only charge the city for the portion of ground it builds on.
The county would invest the proceeds from the sale to the city back into the joint facility.
County officials are already planning to convert 2,500 square feet of space in its justice center into a training and workout facility for local law enforcement personnel.
The county also has told the city it could build 5,000 square feet of space in a new building with the city.
Hermacinski said Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins is willing to collaborate with Police Chief Cory Christensen to see what spaces in a new facility might be shared.
“We’re starting to look at a lot of ways we can collaborate on the west side of town,” Hermacinski said.
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