Routt County commissioners want to discuss possible collaboration with city on police station project
Steamboat Springs — As the city of Steamboat Springs continues to look for a place to build a new police station, the Routt County Board of Commissioners wants to talk about a possible collaboration that could benefit both governments and save taxpayers money.
Routt County itself needs more space for its Sheriff’s Office and 9-1-1 communications center, and the commissioners want to sit down with the Steamboat Springs City Council soon to discuss whether their needs could all be met in the same place by constructing a shared facility next to the Routt County Jail or working side by side on a campus there.
“This is a discussion we should be in with the city because it could save taxpayer dollars,” commissioner Tim Corrigan said Wednesday. “We should not ignore any opportunity to save taxpayer dollars, in particular, because we know at some point in the future (the county) will be looking at expanding the administration space at the Sheriff’s Department, and our communication center isn’t adequate. I’m open to looking at how collaborating with the city would benefit both of us.”
Collaborations between cities and counties have been used to construct joint public safety campuses in Craig and Aspen.
Commissioner Cari Hermacinski listed off a number of things she thinks could potentially be shared at a public safety facility in Steamboat including secured parking, a gym, an armory, a cafeteria, a front desk reception area and a communications department.
She wants to soon hold a public discussion about the possibilities to gauge interest from elected officials and the public.
County Manager Tom Sullivan said Wednesday that much like the city’s current police station, the Sheriff’s Office is “bursting at the seams” and some of the deputies are working out of offices that used to be closets. He added the Routt County Communications emergency dispatch center is in need of more room.
The possibility for a collaboration between the city and county centers on a 5-acre piece of available land called the Klein property just west of the Routt County Jail that the city once pursued as a location for a new station prior to voters’ rejection of Steamboat 700.
In 2009, the city identified the parcel as the place it was going to consider building a new police station if the large housing development on the west end of town went through.
Steamboat 700 was turned down by voters, and former City Council President Loui Antonucci said Wednesday the council hit the brakes on the police station project because of a faltering economy.
After the project was revived in 2012, the Klein property was one of more than two dozen sites the city looked at for a police station. But city staff has passed on the site for a number of reasons.
The property’s long distance from the mountain, potential intersection issues, land costs and wetlands were listed by city staff as potential “deal killers.”
The city also estimates it can only build on half of the property because of wetlands.
Prior to the request from the commissioners to talk about having the police station on the Klein property, city staff met with the Routt County Sheriff’s Department to discuss the possibility of sharing facilities.
Police Chief Joel Rae told the council in May 2013, he was not aware of any expansion plans from the Sheriff’s Department, and that while some things like training rooms could be shared, other things would not be practical.
“It’s very hard to share best practices when we talk about sharing anything to do with evidence,” he said.
City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Wednesday it would be great if the city and county could find a way to share anything, but city staff continues to believe it would be more efficient to build a police station east of 13th Street where 85 percent of Steamboat’s police calls originate from.
The council last month was unable to reach any consensus on a building location for a police station and is poised to form a citizens committee later this month to help in the search.
“I have a feeling we’re going to use a community committee to find a police station site, and we’ll go wherever that committee tells us to go, even if it is west,” Hinsvark said.
The City Council will consider setting a date to meet with the commissioners on Feb. 24.
Other potential meeting topics include affordable housing and the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission’s recent talks about a recreation district.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Time seemed to stop for Matthew Engle for a few seconds after he heard crunching metal last week while he was in downtown Steamboat Springs.