County invites City Council to resume talks on public safety campus
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of County Commissioners is inviting the city of Steamboat Springs to resume efforts to house the city’s police force in a new public safety campus on the west side of town.
Although the county currently does not have the reserve funds to build its share of the campus, county commissioners are asking the city to consider an incremental approach to building new facilities for local law enforcement agencies on the same property.
As early as next month, City Council could decide whether to continue pursuing the public safety campus or move on to look at other properties on which to build a standalone police station.
Council President Walter Magill said Tuesday that, while a true shared building may not be realized, he still sees benefits to the city building a standalone police station on the site adjacent to the Routt County Jail.
He called the location his top choice and said building the station there could encourage shared facilities and synergy in the future.
“I know we’ve been pulled back and forth by the commissioners a little bit, but I still think that site and that location and putting the Sheriff’s Office and our police department in close proximity is better for the community,” Magill told his fellow council members. “There will be synergies. If we could get that land cheap, then I think it’s a win-win for the community. It would be a one-stop shop.”
In a letter commissioners sent to the City Council last week, the county reaffirmed its desire to have the city partner with the county on its facilities rather than purchase property on its own to build a new station.
According to the commissioners, early partnerships with the city could include 3,000 square feet of shared training space in what is currently a storage room at the Routt County Justice Center and another 2,000 square feet of shared space beneath the Routt County Jail if the communications center is eventually relocated.
The invitation comes after commissioners in December alerted City Council that the county needed to withdraw from the planning of the shared facility because it did not believe the community would support a tax increase to help pay for it.
A recent study estimating the amount of additional space the county’s law enforcement agencies needed also recommended three times the amount of space the county originally was considering.
The outcome gave the commissioners pause.
Will a shared public safety campus move forward?
“I just don’t know right now,” Councilman Scott Ford said Tuesday when asked about the prospects. “There are pros and cons with all of (the options). If we could find a way we could find a level of collaboration with the county, I think there’s some advantages to it.”
Like Magill, Ford said the city may not be able to create the full shared facility envisioned by the citizens committee, but that doesn’t mean “there’s not a lot of middle ground that could be covered.”
Meanwhile, some members of the citizens committee who strongly recommended the shared facility continue to call on the city and the county to get creative and find a way to realize their vision.
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