Construction crews break ground (and a gas line) on new law enforcement campus in Steamboat Springs |

Construction crews break ground (and a gas line) on new law enforcement campus in Steamboat Springs

Construction crews began work on the combined law enforcement facility at U.S. Highway 40 and Shield Drive.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — More than six years after the city of Steamboat Springs started on a bumpy quest to build a new police station, construction crews have finally broken ground on the new facility.

“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of work by both the county and the city, and I am really excited to see the construction,” Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said Thursday.

Construction crews are doing early excavation work at the site of the new combined law enforcement facility next to the Routt County Jail.

When it’s done, the 25,908-square-foot facility will house the city’s police force, county sheriff’s department and emergency communications center.

Christensen said the frame of the two-story structure will start to take shape this summer, so that work can continue through the winter.

Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan shared Christensen’s excitement about the start of the construction project.

“I was out at the sheriff’s office yesterday with the contractor walking the site, and it just felt so great to be at this point seeing the dirt being moved around,” Sullivan said Wednesday.

Christensen said the police department is already starting to prepare for the eventual move into the new building, which could occur as soon as May 2019.

“We are working pretty diligently right now on decluttering and making sure we’re getting rid of things we don’t need,” he said.

The department has also ordered a comprehensive audit of all its current property and evidence.

Construction at the site commenced this month after Steamboat Springs City Council authorized the spending of the first $2 million on the project.

The overall project budget stands at just over $19 million and includes several large contingency funds.

The council and the Routt County commissioners also approved the agreements that will govern each government’s use of the building.

The city’s portion of the project clocks in at $12.5 million while the county is covering the remaining 40 percent.

The operational agreement for the facility gives the police chief and the sheriff flexibility to suggest changes on an annual basis.

The city will own the new building, and it has entered into a 40-year lease agreement with the county.

“It’s been a lot of intense discussions and attention to detail for the last couple of years,” Sullivan said of negotiating the agreements.

City Manager Gary Suiter was skeptical the city and the county could hammer out the agreements this spring.

He praised the committee of city and county officials that helped get it done.

The effort to build the new station predated the current police chief’s arrival in Steamboat.

Before finding a partner in Routt County to build a combined law enforcement facility, the city floated such ideas as building the station in a corner of Rita Valentine Park.

That plan was abandoned after it encountered fierce public opposition.

Some of the other early plans for the station were also derailed after some members of previous councils started losing confidence in a prior city administration’s handling of the police station project.

First glitch

Ground wasn’t the only thing broken this month at the site of the new law enforcement campus.

Construction doing preliminary ground work at the site struck a natural gas line Thursday morning, prompting a large emergency response.

An excavator struck the line at about 11:30 a.m., and people at nearby businesses quickly began smelling gas.

Emergency responders monitored gas readings in the area and were prepared to evacuate businesses in the Curve Plaza commercial center.

Across the street from the leak, a bank building under construction was evacuated.

Employees at Mountain Valley Bank chose to leave the business until Atmos Energy capped the leak at about 12:30 p.m.

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

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