Public Safety Building seeing transformation

Council's move allows more space for other city operations

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— Now that the Steamboat Springs City Council has moved to Centennial Hall, the Public Safety Building is being refurbished to provide additional space for police and fire operations.

Last week, work started on transforming the former City Council chambers in the Public Safety Building into four offices and a large meeting room.

But while Public Safety Director J.D. Hays is happy to have the additional space, he is worried it won't be enough to handle future needs.

"This is satisfactory and will do for now," Hays said of the additional space. "But this is a Band-Aid. We need a bigger facility. We have needed one for the past 10 years."

City officials are examining preliminary options of how to best meet the facility needs of police, fire and ambulance services, said City Manager Paul Hughes.

The new large room will be used by police officers to write reports and for meetings and briefings, said Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing.

The total cost of the project, which includes architectural and construction work, is $72,000. The work is expected to be completed this week.

With the growth of the city, the number of police and fire personnel has also increased, Hays said.

Currently, the Police Department consists of 23 officers. The Fire Department consists of Assistant Fire Chief Bob Struble, a record keeper and 28 volunteer firefighters.

At any point in the day, there could be about 60 employees between the two departments in the two-story building, Hays said.

The Public Safety Building, 840 Yampa Ave., was built in 1980 and occupied by the city a year later. Hays believes the building became obsolete sooner than expected.

"No one anticipated the amount of growth that has occurred," he said. "We outgrew the building in 10 years."

Hays is hopeful city officials will look into constructing a new building for the two departments within the next five years.

"I would like for the city to have a building that will be satisfactory for the next 40 to 50 years," he said.

Fiebing welcomes the new space.

"This is a real upgrade for us," Fiebing said. "This is going to be real nice. Officers will now have a work space where they can write reports."

The four new offices in the building will be occupied by Fiebing, Capt. Richard Crotz, Struble and a Fire Department employee in charge of records.

Fiebing's old office will be taken over by Detective Robert DelValle. Prior to the move, DelValle shared an office with two other detectives, Fiebing said.

Struble's old office will be used for additional lockers, and the current locker room will be upgraded.

"The current lockers are old and narrow," Fiebing said. "New lockers will be a plus."

Another new feature of the building will be a small room that will be used primarily for interrogations, Fiebing said.

The project will also make the building more secure.

With the City Council located in the building, there was a door from the chambers that could be used by the public to access the offices of police and fire officials.

"The public will no longer be able to enter the Police Department from this door," Fiebing said. "To get back here, the public will have to enter through the lobby."

Future facilities for the police, fire and ambulance services will be a topic for later this year, Hughes said.

"There are a variety of options that are open to us," Hughes said. "I expect the City Council to explore the options before settling the budget in November and December."

The city has had to look into a future facility because of the city's consolidation with the Rural Fire Protection District.

The city expects to expand the Fire Department's mountain station next year and also look into acquiring property where another facility can be built, Hughes said.

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