City Council selects new shortlist of police station sites | SteamboatToday.com

City Council selects new shortlist of police station sites

Four years and 44 days after new police station effort launched, city makes progress on building sites

Scott Franz

The quest to build a new police station in Steamboat Springs is entering its fourth year.

— Four years, 44 days and several twists and turns after the city of Steamboat Springs launched its latest quest to build a new police station, a new City Council has gotten back to the point of having a shortlist of building sites.

The council on Tuesday night narrowed the list of potential locations for the police headquarters to four locations. They include Routt County’s public safety campus in west Steamboat, the existing police station location at 840 Yampa St., the city’s municipal campus at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue and a site on U.S. Highway 40 just south of the Hampton Inn.

“If this was easy, it would have been solved by now,” Councilwoman Kathi Meyer joked as the council spent nearly two hours discussing a list of six sites and tried to narrow it down.

The council eliminated the site at Yampa Valley Electric Association’s campus and a parcel called the Klein property next to Bear River Park.

The prospect of a shared facility with Routt County, which was the top choice of a citizens committee, now appears to be hanging by a thread.

Some council members were ready to strike the option on Tuesday until Council President Walter Magill said the council owed it to the citizenry to discuss the prospect with the county one more time.

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Magill said he wants to know how much the county would sell the land to the city for and what ideas it has for collaboration and sharing of facilities.

Routt County commissioners have told the council they cannot afford to build a shared facility with the city at this time, but they remain open to an incremental approach of building facilities at the site.

A new fire station also was a hot topic at the council’s meeting Tuesday.

If the city gets rid of the existing public safety building on Yampa, it would have to have a plan in place for another fire station downtown.

Council members floated the idea of exploring an option of rebuilding a combined police and fire facility on Yampa or adding both police and fire facilities to the municipal campus on 10th Street.

In that scenario, new City Hall offices would have to be constructed.

City staff recently introduced the idea of building both a new City Hall and a police station on 10th Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.

Under this option, the 55-year-old building that houses City Hall on 10th Street would be replaced by a new police station, and a new City Hall would be constructed next door on what is currently a public parking lot at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Magill said the idea was a “diversion.”

“I’m not going to let the (new) city hall become a priority,” he said. “I’ll vote against it all day long.”

Magill also took issue with how the idea was presented by city staff.

He noted Director of General Services Anne Small had described how a new City Hall at the corner of 10th and Lincoln would be an attractive fixture on that side of downtown, but staff did not discuss what the other facilities would look like.

“Please don’t try to sell me,” Magill told Small. “I’d like to look at them all equally.”

Small and Police Chief Cory Christensen replied that staff did not have a recommended site at this time, and they wanted the council to weigh all of the options.

Councilman Jason Lacy noted City Hall renovations are currently on a lower tier of the city’s parked projects list.

City officials will further vet the council’s preferred sites and come back with more information in the coming weeks.

While the idea of a new police station dates back to the mid 2000s, City Council started its latest effort of vetting proposals in March 2012.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10