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City is ‘disappointed’

Hughes: County should wait for justice center parking study

Christine Metz

City Manager Paul Hughes said city officials are “deeply disappointed” with Routt County commissioners’ decision to hold steadfast with building a judicial facility west of downtown.

The county announced its decision before the release of findings from an $11,000 parking study, the cost of which the county and city split.

“We are puzzled as to why the commissioners decided to move forward with the decision without having even considered a downtown parking study, which we helped pay for,” Hughes said.

Thursday morning, the city received a letter that outlined why the county commissioners are standing by their decision to build the judicial facility next to the Routt County Jail.

“No new information has been brought to our attention, including the waiver of parking requirements, that would cause us to reconsider our decision and now, as aboard, we are unanimous in our commitment to a site that is adjacent to the Detention Facility,” the letter states.

The letter was delivered to the city on the same day the county received a draft of the parking study. County Commissioners Nancy Stahoviak said parking is just one of many factors in determining the site for the judicial facility and would not influence the commissioners’ decision, which was made more than a year ago.

“We feel like even though we continue to repeat and repeat our resolve, people out there aren’t listening to the commissioners,” she said.

The parking study was one of three studies the county is doing at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The studies are intended to help the Army Corps decide whether to give the county a permit to fill 1.4 acres of wetlands at the proposed western site.

In June, the Army Corps informed commissioners that it reached a preliminary decision to deny the wetlands permit request. The denial was based upon the Army Corps’ belief that building a new justice center downtown would cause less environmental damage than building at the five-acre site by the jail.

The two other studies will look at the flooding dangers of building the justice center at the alternative downtown site and the security benefits of building at the county-preferred western location.

The Army Corps asked the county and city to share the cost of a parking study and the city agreed to split the $11,000 cost less than a month ago.

“I think, clearly, it is a waste of money,” Hughes said.

If the Army Corps does deny the county’s permit, Stahvoiak said she still would not consider the downtown site at Sixth and Oak streets.

“It is totally out of character with what needs to go in the downtown, it doesn’t fit,” Stahoviak said.

Since the city asked the county to reconsider the downtown site and noted it would flex with parking requirements to do so, the two boards have met on various occasions. But the issue of the courthouse has not been discussed openly between the two boards. The county has resisted holding an open meeting on the subject.

“They don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to understand our position. They want to browbeat us to make the decision to move it back downtown,” Stahoviak said.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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