Elected officials start to weigh in on idea of shared public safety facility
Steamboat Springs — Several elected officials in Routt County are open to the idea of building a combined public safety facility in west Steamboat, but some are stressing the devil is in the details.
“We’re supportive of the concept, and we think it would be a good thing for the taxpayers,” Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “But moving on to the details, I know that I worry that the city’s needs (for a new police station) are more immediate than what ours are, and we know we have a whole range of capital needs in addition to expanded sheriff’s facilities. … I don’t know that we can say today that expanding and enhancing the sheriff’s office is the most important thing on our plate.”
A citizens committee formed by the Steamboat Springs City Council recently recommended that the city and county work together to build a shared facility on a 15,000-square-foot footprint adjacent to the Routt County Jail.
Committee members see a shared facility as a way to save taxpayer money and strengthen the relationship among local law enforcement agencies.
Corrigan shares this view and wants to see exactly how much money the shared facility would save.
Immediately after the committee made its recommendation for a shared facility, Steamboat City Council President Bart Kounovsky said the city needed to ensure it had a willing partner and raised the construction of Soda Creek Elementary School as a piece of history the city does not want to repeat.
The school was not built for growth in the future.
“We’ve got to do it right and make sure we’ve got the room,” Kounovsky said.
Council member Walter Magill suggested that nothing was insurmountable and suggested the shared facility could be a topic for a joint city and county meeting soon.
Council member Sonja Macys said she has worked in shared facilities herself for the past 15 years and has seen firsthand how effective they are in increasing collaboration and reducing duplication of efforts.
“A shared facility is something I have been interested in from the outset,” she said. “I’m all in favor of that.”
And council member Scott Ford said he was “intrigued” by the idea of a shared facility.
“This council person is going to listen very, very carefully to what this committee has to say,” Ford said. “I trust this team. I really do. It’s a really good team.”
The police station committee has been talking with Bill Rangitsch, the architect both the city and county have both used to design public safety facilities.
Rangitsch has indicated the existing sheriff’s office site could accommodate a two-story building with secure parking on the west side of the structure and public parking on the east side.
The committee believes the site has enough space to accommodate both agencies’ current and future needs.
Committee member Charlie MacArthur also said the city could buy some time and hold off on building a new facility by doing some modest renovations to the existing facility.
“This doesn’t have to happen fast,” he said. “They could live in the facility for another two to five years without any major issues.”
The committee will meet Monday morning to decide if it wants to recommend a plan B for a new station.
The meeting is open to the public and begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Crawford Room of Centennial Hall.
Public comment will be accepted at the start of the meeting.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10
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