Routt County retains specialized architect to lead conceptual design of shared police, sheriff’s building
Steamboat Springs — Routt County commissioners are expected on Tuesday to take a modest leap of faith and enter into a contract for up to $32,500 with a national architectural firm to conduct workshops and produce a conceptual plan for a new shared law enforcement facility for the county and city of Steamboat Springs.
The commissioners are taking on the contract in order to make progress this year and with the expectation they will be able to work out a cost-sharing agreement with the city at a later date when it is not being led by an interim police chief and interim city manager. Add to that, the makeup of City Council also will change after the Nov. 3 election.
“It’s a leap of faith for us to do this,” Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said Monday. “I guess the worst case is the county pays for the $32,500 expense, and over the longer term, it would still tell us what we need to do with (the needs of) law enforcement.”
She sits with council members Scott Ford and Walter Magill on a committee trying to move the project forward.
The county commissioners are optimistic the city will work out the details of a cost-sharing agreement, but Hermacinski pointed out Monday that the city has already invested planning dollars in “programming” for a new independent police station at sites elsewhere in the city. It would be preferable, she said, if the county knew in advance what the city was willing to pay for a portion of the county-owned site along U.S. Highway 40 where the new shared facility would be built.
The contract being considered by the commissioners this week will actually be shared by a local firm, Steamboat Architectural Associates, with a larger firm that specializes in public safety buildings, McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie, Inc. (MWL). Steamboat Architectural, which designed the existing sheriff’s office, would received $7,300 for consulting, and the balance, including expenses, would go to MWL.
MWL has designed police stations in Aspen, Breckenridge and Greeley, and joint police/911 center facilities in Canon City, Parker, Littleton and Loveland, among many in other states.
The city is already familiar with MWL. It has worked on conceptual plans for a new stand-alone city police station on other sites in Steamboat, and the city has spent a little more than $270,000 on planning for a new police station since 2012.
After the county expressed a willingness to consider sharing a new building with the city, and a plan to build a stand-alone facility on South Lincoln Avenue failed by one vote in January, City Council convened a citizens committee in June. The panel endorsed a shared facility, and the convictions of its members only grew stronger after a tour of the shared enforcement building in Craig.
County purchasing agent Marti Hamilton cautioned the commissioners Monday not to expect that the plan produced by the architects will result in renderings, but something indicating how the desired facilities could fit on the site. The contract language also calls for MWL to produce a preliminary cost estimate “based on this year’s negotiating experience.”
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