Steamboat Springs Growing skeptical of assurances that the Space Station gas station and Go-fer Foods convenience store is perpetually a month away from reopening, the city of Steamboat Springs has begun to explore taking legal action against the owners of the vacant lot in the heart of downtown.
Planning and Community Development Director Tom Leeson and City Attorney Tony Lettunich said they are working with code enforcement officers in the planning and police departments, as well as municipal prosecutor Collette Erickson.
"We're just exploring at this point what options we have looking at nuisance issues," Leeson said. "We haven't provided any kind of notice of violations at this point, but we're looking at what our options are."
The vacant lot at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue has attracted litter, tall weeds and graffiti. It is surrounded by a chain-link fence in an effort to prevent parking on the site.
"You have to maintain the property at least in a manner compatible with adjacent properties," Lettunich told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday. "There's a lot of things we think we could do in terms of a nuisance."
In April, City Attorney Dan Foote said the property couldn't be cited simply for being vacant, but it could be cited for aesthetic reasons, for being unsafe or for attracting illegal activity.
Monument Oil owns the site. Paul Brown, owner of the Grand Junction-based company, has told the Steamboat Pilot & Today since November that a reopening of the Space Station site is imminent.
"We are currently in negotiations with two different parties," Brown said in April. "If we can get these guys moving, I would hope we could get it open in the next 30 to 45 days."
A message left for Brown at Monument Oil's offices was not returned Friday. Space Station and Go-fer Foods closed Dec. 22, 2006, after former operator Dan Bonner decided not to renew his lease after a decade. Brown has said a failed sale of the property last year and unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a deal with a new local operator have plagued efforts to redevelop or reopen the lot.
"We're as anxious as anybody to get that remodeled and reopened again," Brown said in April. "We're bleeding from the property tax and just the maintenance up there. : We're working diligently to get it operational and to get that fence down, obviously."
Since November, Brown has said that if he did not reach a successful negotiation with a local operator, he would come to Steamboat to reopen the store himself as a company-operated business. Also in November, Brown said he would replace the chain-link fence with a more attractive barrier, such as planters, before the height of the 2008-09 ski season.
In late December, Brown said factors such as the holidays and the moving of Monument Oil's headquarters slowed his plans.
"I just haven't had time to get up there," Brown said in December. "I will be moving forward to get up there shortly."