Council wants to explore moving the fire station, building a new city hall

A proposed location for a new fire station would include Steamboat Springs City Hall and an adjacent parking lot. l John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Steamboat Springs City Council members directed staff at their Tuesday meeting to explore selling the current fire station at 840 Yampa St. and building a new station at 137 10th St., where the current City Hall is located. A new City Hall would be built on city-owned land at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 10th Street.

Council members discussed the topic in an informal work session, so they did not take an official vote.

“This current location is too small and does not handle the appropriate equipment or housing for the firefighters to be there and to sleep there while they’re on shift to respond to calls,” said City Manager Gary Suiter. “Where the firefighters hang out right now is in the ambulance barn across the street.”

While they agreed this may be the best option of a limited selection, council members Lisel Petis, Michael Buccino and Heather Sloop said they did not like the new city hall location but agreed they could save money by building where the city already owns land.

“It may not be the best location, but I don’t know what other options we have without spending a lot of money,” Buccino said.

Finance Director Kim Weber and Deputy City Manager Tom Leeson estimated the entire project would cost $18,726,978, or about $728 per square foot.

While the project comes with a high price tag, Leeson said $4 million will come from the mill levy passed in 2019, $5.4 million from the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District, $100,000 from solar grant funds and $1.2 million from Department of Local Affairs grant funds.

“This meets a lot of needs, and I want to make sure that we’re clear — we’re building an $18 million project with only $5 million of our own money,” said council member Sonja Macys. “This project will add to our downtown in ways that will pay off in more than what we’re spending.”

Council member Kathi Meyer said now is a good time to obtain certificates of participation, a financing mechanism secured by lease payments, because interest rates are low.

“We should take care of our long-term needs,” Meyer said.

Council has been in discussions about the move for months, and members have previously expressed concern about flooding in the building, as the existing City Hall is outside FEMA’s 100-year floodplain as shown on the city’s flood insurance rate map.

To address this concern, city engineers have been conducting a flood analysis as part of the Soda Creek bridges assessment project and are updating the flood information for all the Soda Creek drainage, as well as working with a hydrologist to create a new floodplain assessment.

The proposed fire station will be about 17,500 square feet, with four bays, living quarters, administrative offices and building support.

Council has also floated the idea of building a fire station on the west side of the district, but the bulk of fire calls come from the mountain and downtown areas, so Suiter said a centrally located station is essential.

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