Land swap

North Routt works out deal for site to build fire station

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— The last piece of the puzzle is in place for the North Routt Fire Protection District to move forward on a $1.5 million project that includes construction of a second fire station at Steamboat Lake State Park.

Recently, the State Parks Board approved a land swap between Steamboat Lake State Park and North Routt County resident Terry Hunt.

The swap will allow the fire protection district to move forward with the new fire station, scheduled to be built in the northern part of the park on County Road 129.

"This land swap has been quite lengthy," said Chuck Vale, chairman of the board of directors for the North Routt Fire Protection District. "It has been a complicated legal transaction."

The land swap is the result of a 1990 agreement between the fire district and Steamboat Lake officials.

Because of financial constraints and the need for fire protection and emergency services in the area, park land would be leased to the fire district for a new fire station.

"At the time of the agreement, we did not have the money for the new station," Vale said.

Initially, the district was planning to use two acres of park land close to County Roads 62 and 129.

Because several years passed since the agreement was made and housing development has taken place in the area, another site was needed, said Ken Brink, Steamboat Lake State Park manager.

"The land adjacent to the two-acre parcel was purchased and a home was built," Brink said. "The landowner heard of the fire station and wanted to see it somewhere else. He didn't want it in the front of his home."

Talks between park officials and Hunt began nearly two years ago and culminated last Friday with the state board's approval.

According to the deal, Hunt will give five acres of land past C.R. 62 and on C.R. 129. In return, the state park will give Hunt five acres of land in front of his home.

Brink said the new site is better than the original site that had been agreed upon.

"The firehouse will be tucked in the trees," Brink said. "The previous site was also across the street from a campground."

With the land in place, the fire district is scheduled to go before the Routt County Planning Commission in April.

The district is proposing to build a 9,000-square-foot facility, which is estimated to cost $900,000.

The proposed facility will have four bays. Three will be utilized by the district and one by the county.

"We hope to break ground by May 15 and have it built by fall," Vale said.

The district also plans to buy a new fire truck, ambulance and rescue and water trucks, Vale said.

Last November, North Routt County residents voted to approved a $1.2 million bond for the fire district. The district also has received a $200,000 Energy Impact Grant. Routt County has agreed to fund $150,000 of the project.

The district is planning to build the fire station to go with its current facility in Clark to improve fire protection and emergency services to the Steamboat Lake area.

"Getting a timely response to an emergency in this area was quite difficult," Vale said of the response time from the Clark station.

The district will pay Steamboat Lake State Park $10 a year because of the lease agreement.

"We want to be a good partner," Brink said.

"Because of development and the number of visitors coming to the park, the new station will be a benefit. It will be right at our back door."

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