Our view: Shared facility merits consideration | SteamboatToday.com
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Our view: Shared facility merits consideration

At issue

A shared facility between the Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office

Our view

In the long run, a new facility that brings law enforcement agencies closer together will yield benefits for all of Routt County

Steamboat Springs City Council formed a citizens panel last winter to do what it had been unable to do in the span of four years — choose a location for a new police station and do it by August. The committee members beat the deadline and have turned in their recommendation that the city create a shared facility with the Routt County Sheriff’s office and perhaps the Colorado State Patrol.

At issue

A shared facility between the Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office

We think it’s incumbent on the council to take the next step and study the feasibility of doing just that — allowing the two departments to share modern facilities while working more closely together to prevent and solve crimes in our broader community. At the same time, shared spaces like an information technology space, armory and evidence processing lab, will save the taxpayers of the city and county money. And we’re not just making that up — Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume and Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta are already doing just that. And contrary to the conclusion City Manager Deb Hinsvark and Police Chief Joel Rae reached — that the only room they could see sharing with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office is a 400-square-foot fitness room — Sheriff Garrett Wiggins estimates the two departments could share up to 7,000 square feet.



The committee members, including a former city planning director, a building contractor, a former city council member, a planning commission member and a bank vice-president, formed their recommendation after visiting the shared facility in Craig. The recommendation for a shared facility here implies utilizing undeveloped ground on the sheriff’s campus that has the potential to house a new two-story building. There is also the possibility of purchasing development land just to the west off U.S. Highway 40.

Steamboat building contractor Gary Cogswell was impressed by a visit to the joint facility in Craig, calling it “absolutely a compelling argument for combining not only police and sheriff,” but also the state patrol into one building.



We understand it wouldn’t be easy to merge the existing sheriff’s office building with a new building; in Craig, the shared facility was built from the ground up to serve that purpose.

It’s also implicit that city and county government officials would have to work collaboratively to reach an equitable cost-sharing agreement. That could be rough given the county’s outlook on the Urban Renewal Authority, but if they get through the process, they will have formed a stronger working relationship.

The timing of undertaking a building project could also be an issue; although Routt County has acknowledged the sheriff’s department needs more space, it doesn’t appear to be as urgent as the need for a new police station. If the county isn’t ready to take on that expense, it will take a clever phasing plan to pull the project off.

What city council needs to do next is embrace the committee’s recommendation and retain an architectural consulting firm that has a proven track record in merging the physical spaces occupied by law enforcement agencies to perform a feasibility study.

We believe that, in the long run, a new facility that brings law enforcement agencies closer together will yield benefits for all of Routt County.


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