Sheriff sees big opportunity to share space with Steamboat Springs Police Department
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins is urging the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners to explore the possibility of the city and the county sharing space in a public safety facility in west Steamboat.
Wiggins said by sharing space, the city and the county could potentially save taxpayers millions of dollars by not duplicating spaces.
Police officers also would be steps away from the Routt County Justice Center, the 911 communications center and the jail.
“I think it’s a great idea, and it’s definitely worth discussing amongst us,” Wiggins said Tuesday night at a joint meeting of the council and county commissioners. “To me, it just makes complete sense.”
Wiggins estimated there is as much as 6,900 square feet of space that could be shared between the Sheriff’s Office and the Steamboat Springs Police Department in the form of training rooms, evidence rooms, locker rooms, an impound yard and a parking lot.
The city has for the last three years been working to build a new police station to replace the cramped facility on Yampa Street.
At the same time, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said the Sheriff’s Office is “busting at the seams.”
Wiggins said the city’s police department and the Sheriff’s Office could still function independently under the same roof.
He also questioned the argument from leaders of the city’s police department that it would be better to have the station closer to downtown and the mountain because that’s where a majority of police calls come from.
Wiggins pointed out that officers routinely work from their vehicles and have computers in those vehicles.
Police officials said Monday that officers still regularly go back to the station during their shifts, and there are other considerations for locating a station near the center of the city.
There are two potential opportunities for locating a police station next to the county’s public safety facilities in west Steamboat.
One would involve the city purchasing the Klein property, and the other is an empty portion of county-owned land north of the Sheriff’s patrol offices that could hold a 15,188 square-foot building footprint.
The latter possibility would depend on the future expansion needs of the Sheriff’s Office.
In recent weeks, city staff has expressed doubts about the possibility of sharing facilities in a joint campus on the west end of town.
During a recent meeting Sullivan and Wiggins had with City Manager Deb Hinsvark and Police Chief Joel Rae, Hinsvark and Rae reportedly told county officials that “in the end, if the city found areas to share in its current programmed campus, it would be (a 400-square-foot workout area).”
In addition, Rae has told the City Council he believes the most ideal place to build a new station is between 13th Street and Pine Grove Road, where 85 percent of the city’s police calls reportedly originate from.
The decision of where to put the police station ultimately resides with the City Council. It recently formed a citizens committee to recommend where the station should go.
That committee has expressed an interest in exploring a joint campus in west Steamboat.
The group will soon meet with county officials to discuss the possibility.
In other action:
The council agreed to schedule a special meeting early next week to again discuss the investigation into claims of misconduct against Police Chief Joel Rae and Deputy Police Chief Bob DelValle. The meeting will take place either Monday or Tuesday. The council proposed meeting in executive, or closed session, to seek legal advice and discuss personnel matters.
The County Commission and the City Council voted unanimously to dedicate $400,000 from the Community Housing Fund to an affordable housing project in west Steamboat should the project get the necessary federal income tax credits. The Yampa Valley Housing Authority is working with the Overland Property Group to build 48 affordable apartment units near the intersection of Elk River Road and U.S. Highway 40. Elected officials praised the project.
The council voted 6-0, with Council President Bart Kounovsky abstaining, to approve an amendment to a master ground lease at the Steamboat Springs Airport. The amendment will have the city assume the maintenance of the common areas around a new hangar development. In supporting the amendment, several council members cited the economic benefits of the hangars.
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While warm days and nights are fueling strong flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs, the pace of runoff is expected to dip this week.