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City wants justice center in town

Christine Metz

The Steamboat Springs City Council agreed to send a second letter to Routt County Commissioners urging them not to build the judicial facility west of town.

City Councilman Ken Brenner made the request to write a letter to commissioners asking them to keep the judicial facility in the Old Town area, which he said would be consistent with community planning documents.

After voters in 2002 rejected the county’s request for taxpayers to fund a judicial facility proposed at the corner of Sixth and Oak streets, the city sent the commissioners a letter urging them to keep the facility downtown.

The council also agreed to ask commissioners to explain their decision to move the courthouse west of town during their January meeting.

“There is a need to discuss this with them, to have an open discussion,” Councilwoman Kathy Connell said. “There could be reasons why they chose the west of Steamboat site I think we may not know.”

In April, the commissioners voted 2 to 1 to build courtrooms and court clerk offices west of town. They said the courtroom expansion needed to be out west to ensure other county departments in downtown had room to grow in the future.

But Brenner, who was elected to council in November, said the city’s land use planning document encouraged keeping government facilities downtown.

Brenner said his request was spurred partly by a three-part commentary that resident Townsend Anderson wrote to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Anderson also urged the council to ask commissioners to reconsider the judicial facility’s location.

“There needs to be firmness and clarity on where you stand and what you are willing to do to defend yours, ours and their plan,” Anderson said. “We are counting on you to defend our hard work and to stand up for our community plan.”

Lyman Orton told the council it was a terrible mistake to build the courthouse outside of the downtown area and said keeping it in Old Town would increase economic vitality.

Anderson said time is of the essence. The county already has surveyed and done studies on the site. Dec. 20 is the deadline for comments to be submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which decides whether a permit should be issued to allow the county to build the judicial facility on patches of wetlands.

Before they spend more money on the site, “a reconsideration would need to happen soon,” President Paul Strong said.

In other business:

n The council approved closure of Lincoln Avenue after 6 p.m. June 28 to accommodate the Great Race, the longest-running automobile rally. The organizers of the Great Race asked that Lincoln Avenue be closed from 4 to 7 p.m.

Council members feared complaints from closing Lincoln Avenue during evening rush hour on a Monday. The week before July Fourth — when the event is planned — is one of the heaviest traffic times of the year, council members said said.

Members of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, which is working with the Great Race, said they did not know whether timing was an issue that would break the deal. The organization said it wanted to use the historic downtown street as its finish line for the day, which would be filmed for the Speed Channel.

n Council agreed to ask staff to look at how much past water and wasterwater Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District owed the city in the Fish Creek and Anglers Drive area. The council also agreed to recommend that the water focus group record its meeting. The council agreed to ask staff to look at handshake deals in the past that had not been recorded.

n In a 4-3 vote, the council approved a grant from the Colorado Aeronautical Board and Division of Aeronautics that would repair the terminal ramp and construct a ramp access at the Steamboat Springs Airport.

n Council approved a contract agreement with the chamber, stipulating that money from the venders fee, which is expected to be about $470,000, be used by the chamber for marketing and promoting Steamboat as a year-round resort community. The contract also stated that $75,000 from the city be used for special event funding.


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