Three downtown sites to be considered for new Steamboat Fire Rescue station
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The city of Steamboat Springs is considering three locations for a new downtown fire station.
Steamboat Springs City Council directed the central fire station exploratory committee to examine three sites in further detail. These locations include a lot at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue across the street from Bud Werner Memorial Library, the current location of city offices and a parking lot at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue and the current fire station at 840 Yampa St.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue seeks to expand staff in the coming years to meet an increasing demand for emergency services, Fire Chief Mel Stewart told Steamboat Pilot & Today last month. But to house those new staff members and the gear they use to fight fires and respond to medical emergencies, the department needs more space.
The proposed station would replace the current fire station at 840 Yampa St. with a larger facility. The department’s administrative offices would be relocated from the mountain fire station to the new building.
The committee prioritized potential sites based on several criteria, including:
- How quickly emergency personnel would be able to respond to calls in central and downtown Steamboat
- Limiting impacts to residential neighborhoods
- Proximity to U.S. Highway 40 and schools
- Lot size and how the footprint of the building would fit Steamboat Fire Rescue’s needs
The committee will also consider the cost of developing the lots and impacts to the environment as it explores a council-approved shortlist of sites.
After a ballot effort to generate more revenue by including the city in the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District — and its property tax — died last year, the construction of a new station remains unfunded.
City Council has prioritized finding a new funding source to expand emergency services in the city as the department sees more calls to respond to emergencies and more calls occurring at the same time. Another committee has been tasked with developing options to pay for the new facility and additional staff.
The lot currently housing city offices saw the most discussion at the Tuesday meeting. This proposal would level current offices in City Hall and build the station on half of the block.
The site meets most, “if not all,” of the fire department’s criteria for a new facility and many of City Council’s, said Eric Becker, of OZ Architecture, a consulting firm on the project.
“When I look at this, it looks like a win-win for everybody,” he said. “I think the drawback is the city offices, we would need to relocate those somewhere if you went forward with a plan that didn’t include those on the sites.”
The committee will explore a fire station at that location and a co-located facility with both a fire station and city offices.
“It’s a big idea,” Council President Pro-Tem Kathi Meyer said as she voiced her support for a multi-use facility. “It’s probably a lot more money than we’re ready to spend, but we need to look at future bold ideas.”
Though council members seemed interested in the idea of co-locating city offices and a fire station on the lot, some expressed concern at the potential cost of the concept.
“While I do like co-location and multi-use facilities, I am concerned about two things with the 10th Street option, and that’s cost and parking,” Council President Jason Lacy said. “We’ve been talking now for three years about how we don’t have enough money. We’re looking at the end of our lens right now. We’re looking at not being able to meet our operating needs within the next few years based on our current tax structure.”
He said a multi-use facility could send the wrong signal to the community, and these capital improvements aren’t in current city plans.
Council member Sonja Macys said she wanted to explore the idea of creating employee housing for city staff, such as seasonal bus drivers in the facility.
City Council members also wanted to investigate the feasibility of co-locating city offices or housing atop a fire station on 13th Street.
The site at Lincoln and 13th Street would house a two-story fire station or a three-story multi-use facility.
The steepness of the slope could increase construction costs, OZ said, as it would require building into the slope. It would also require an intersection reconfiguration.
The 840 Yampa location, the site of the current fire station, was council’s third preference.
“I just still believe that selling that building on Yampa and getting it into something that’s more consistent with the Yampa Street vision is a better idea than having the fire station there,” Macys said.
The existing building would be demolished to build a new, two-story station.
At a previous meeting, council expressed an interest in moving the station off of Yampa with the intention to sell the building once the Steamboat Springs Police Department moves into the new combined law enforcement facility.
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