Steamboat public safety officials hope for regional training facility at Brown Ranch |

Steamboat public safety officials hope for regional training facility at Brown Ranch

Facility could be used by law enforcement, fire districts and search and rescue across Routt County

The Combined Law Enforcement Facility in west Steamboat Springs.
Derek Maiolo/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

While land for a fire station has always been part of the plan for Brown Ranch, Routt County public safety officials are hoping to get additional land for a regional training facility somewhere in the development.

The Brown Ranch Development has a fire station planned in the first neighborhood in the southeast part of the parcel, which Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said he felt was a good location, though he was looking for a slightly bigger parcel.

Steamboat Springs Interim Police Chief Mark Beckett said the fire station hopes to incorporate some space for the police department as well, making it more of a public safety building. This is because space in the Combined Law Enforcement Facility that houses the police and Routt County Sheriff’s Office on the west side of Steamboat is getting scarce, he said.

“The CLEF is maxed out, and I’m not even fully staffed,” Beckett said. “There’s definitely no room for expansion.”

Cerasoli said rather than the 15,000 square foot building called for in the Brown Ranch plan, he was envisioning something closer to 20,000 square feet on about 1.5 acres of land. This would include a larger training room that would be utilized by fire and police personnel and be available for community use at times.

In addition to a shared public safety building, Beckett explained that the police department is also looking for 3 to 5 acres of land elsewhere in the development for a larger, regional public safety training facility.

This future building was referred to as a Routt County Public Safety Training Facility, and would be used by all public safety in the county including police in Steamboat, Hayden and Oak Creek, Routt County Search and Rescue, and personnel from each of the fire districts.

“We’ve spoken with Hayden and Oak Creek and (the Routt County Sheriff’s Office) about creating a regional training facility that would be centered here,” Beckett said. “Steamboat is the hub for this region and that would be a long-term vision that we have.”

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Another reason this type of facility might be needed, Beckett said, is that currently law enforcement uses the Routt County Rifle Club to train, which is just south of the Brown Ranch. Beckett said he sees that as a potential public safety hazard, as there will be public access to the ridge that is the backdrop of the shooting range.

“There’s trails and there’s going to be public access there,” Beckett said. “Our perspective on law enforcement is that it is an immediate conflict.”

Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said they do hear gunshots when out at the Brown Ranch, which isn’t necessarily a problem, though “the last thing we want to hear is bullets whizzing by.”

“We want to figure out how to coexist, if that’s what needs to happen,” Peasley said. “I don’t think we want to take the position of ‘they need to go because we’re building housing there.’ It’s ‘how do we be good neighbors?’”

Beckett said he felt there were options for the housing authority and rifle club to work together to figure out how to make things work in the future. Still, he was concerned if the rifle club did end up changing or leaving, that his officers and other law enforcement in Routt County wouldn’t have a good place to train.

“We can’t have police officers not training on firearms,” Beckett said.

Peasley said that the housing authority is looking to explore locations and options for such a training facility, but that it also needed to be weighed against any loss of potential space for housing, which is the number one goal of the development.

“We’re open to exploring locations and concepts for that,” Peasley said. “But also want to weigh that against, what’s the loss of potential housing.”

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