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City discusses post office, youth programs location

Mike Lawrence

— The city of Steamboat Springs is ready to collaborate with the Steamboat Springs School District on an after-school program.

The city currently houses after-school programs in the “Igloo,” a renovated trailer adjacent to Howelsen Ice Arena. But on Tuesday, the council approved a payment of $16,000 to school district architects Christiansen, Reece and Partners, to add about 800 square feet of office and storage space to plans for the new Soda Creek school.

Construction of the space would cost $200,000, or $250 per square foot, architect Leland Reece estimated.

Chris Wilson, director of the Steamboat Springs Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department, said the space would be “transitional in nature” and require quick collaboration with school district officials, who plan to break ground on the new Soda Creek school in the summer.

“We have to work very quickly, so as not to slow down the school’s process,” Wilson said. “Remember, this solution is two years off.”

The council will try to meet with the Steamboat Springs School Board next month to discuss the addition to Soda Creek and the possible future construction of facilities such as a gymnasium, field house or artificial turf field on school district property.

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City Council Pres-ident Ken Brenner suggested the city and the school district could use such facilities to provide a long-term solution to after-school programming needs.

Brenner said a long-term solution also is needed for the downtown post office, which Postmaster Frank Murphy said occupies more than 12,000 square feet of a building on the corner of Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.

A new post office would be larger than 17,000 square feet and would accommodate the “10-year growth requirements” of the U.S. Postal Service, City Manager Alan Lanning said.

Lanning presented the council Tuesday with a draft letter to U.S. Postal Service staff in Denver.

“This would be the kick-off request,” Lanning said. “It’s a detail of what you would say to the post office to initiate the relocation process.”

Lanning successfully oversaw the construction of a new post office in the town of Minturn, near Vail, where he worked as town manager for six years. That process took three years, Lanning said, but was not encumbered by land issues that would apply to Steamboat.

“We had a site in Minturn that the town already owned,” Lanning said Thursday. “That was an advantage.”

A site purchase is one of many potential costs that Lanning said could impact a post office relocation.

“If we spend $2 million on land, is that land better used sitting there waiting for a post office, or being used for affordable housing?” Council member Paul Strong asked Tuesday. “That’s where our priorities come in.”

The council said it will next discuss post office relocation Jan. 30.

– To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com