Steamboat Springs Public Safety Director Joel Rae details on Thursday the latest options for the relocation of police officers and firefighters who work in the city's downtown emergency services building.

Photo by Scott Franz

Steamboat Springs Public Safety Director Joel Rae details on Thursday the latest options for the relocation of police officers and firefighters who work in the city's downtown emergency services building.

At open house, city of Steamboat unveils latest plans for relocation of downtown emergency services

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Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original published version. The city hopes to secure additional funding through DOLA and Energy Impact grants, not a Great Outdoors Colorado grant, to help pay for new police and fire stations.

The Iron Horse Inn could become a police station after all, but only temporarily.

The city of Steamboat Springs' plan to house its police force in the hotel building it closed last month while it waits for a new headquarters to be constructed was one of the many new details city officials revealed Thursday night during an open house about the future of Steamboat's emergency services.

Public Safety Director Joel Rae kicked off the meeting in the city's downtown fire station by telling a crowd of about 40 community members that the city's police officers and firefighters need a larger, more efficient workspace.

He then outlined four possible plans for the city to accomplish that, including three that would rely on successful negotiations with the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District to share the cost of building an additional small fire station west of downtown.

By spending an estimated $6.75 million of its unrestricted reserve funds, Rae said the city could build a combined police and fire headquarters at the site of the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

Or, for a little more, it could make the fire station at the public safety campus at Stock Bridge three bays smaller and build another three-bay station between Steamboat II and Heritage Park west of city limits.

Cost sharing with the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District would lead to faster response times in west Steamboat while also saving the city about $274,000 annually in operating and capital costs, Rae said.

The third option is to construct a new 15,000-square-foot police headquarters on an 8-acre parcel of land that is currently owned by the U.S. government near the intersection of Hilltop Parkway and U.S. Highway 40 above Yampa Valley Bank. The city still is working to determine how it could obtain the parcel, with one option being a land swap.

In that relocation scenario, two smaller fire stations still would be constructed at Stock Bridge and in west Steamboat.

The final and most expensive option is to add a police station above City Hall on 10th Street, and build the two fire stations at Stock Bridge and in west Steamboat. That plan would necessitate spending $8.4 million from city reserves.

All of the options would cost more than the amount of unrestricted reserves to be allocated to the projects. The city has said other funding sources for the new headquarters would include revenue from the sale of the current downtown emergency services building ($2.1 million), potential DOLA and Energy Impact grants, and money from a potential cost sharing with the rural fire district, Rae said.

“We think we're zeroing in on the final plan,” he said, adding that he feels the city now has “much better options” for the move than it did when the Steamboat Springs City Council first publicly considered a relocation proposal in March.

Asked by a community member Thursday which option was his top choice, Rae said a police station at the site off Hilltop Parkway along with the construction of two smaller fire stations is the city's preferred plan because it would maximize the efficiency of both the new police and fire stations.

All four plans are dependent upon action by the City Council on Tuesday night.

The council is scheduled to decide whether to sell the city's current emergency services building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million. Approving that deal would set in motion the relocation of the emergency services.

If the sale is approved on second reading in January, Rae would have until March 1 to move police headquarters into the Iron Horse.

He estimated Thursday the move and renovations to the hotel would cost about $113,000, a price he said would be less than the other option of renting office space from TIC for about $10,000 a month.

The fire department would be allowed to continue to work out of the existing emergency services building at 840 Yampa St. for 18 months after the close of the sale as part of the deal negotiated with BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger.

Rae said he hopes the council will decide Tuesday both whether to sell the building and where to construct new police and fire stations.

“As I've already said publicly, I would have some concern if they decide to sell the building without also choosing” where to relocate the emergency services, Rae told the audience at Thursday's open house.

As he pointed out that everyone could see an illuminated Howelsen Hill through the bay doors of the fire station, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs President Bill Moser praised the city's efforts to fill the building with local companies that are expected to bring more of an economic benefit to downtown and would maximize the use of the building.

Local developer Steve Caragol also was supportive of the city's move to find a larger and more efficient public safety campus, but he questioned the city's efforts to market the building and receive the best price for it.

"(The new headquarters) I think is necessary, but I think we're selling the public short by not marketing this building properly,” Caragol said, adding that he doesn't feel the city is getting market value for the building.

Other questions from the audience revealed both support and criticism of the proposed sale.

Rae and Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark will present the City Council on Tuesday with more detailed versions of the relocation proposals unveiled Thursday.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 8 months ago

So Rae's preferred option is still being researched to determine the logistics of the land swap?

Regardless, it makes no sense to sell the existing until close to ready to move into the new. The temporary police offices will incur expenses to move into. The proposed sales price of the current building is well below market price and so when the time is right then it can certainly be sold for more than proposed sales price.

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John St Pierre 1 year, 8 months ago

Hilltop Parkway??

That could get real interesting in the winter with EMS equipment puling out onto a downhill roadway pulling up to a 4 way stoplight on a downhill approach on a day like this past Sat & Sunday......

The Iron Horse conversion at this point to a Police station makes the most sense since we are already paying for it....

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rhys jones 1 year, 8 months ago

I still want to know how BAP thinks they can get that property for a million under the deflated market -- and whose pocket(s) got padded along the way. The way this Council fritters away our money is almost criminal -- and probably would be, were all the facts known. Still waters run deep, and this town has been dirty for over 20 years, that I know of.

That's why I keep my eye on Pagosa Springs -- now that's a neat little town.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 8 months ago

John,

Typically, the intersection is considered an advantage since then they can control the light to give red to the cross traffic and green for themselves.

That downhill is not that steep and certainly not a problem for the public safety vehicles.

If City can get the property on good terms from the feds then that could be a great move.

The 8 acre Hilltop site could also be an interesting location to move the post office. A pretty convenient midpoint location and cleaning up the 3rd and Lincoln traffic mess and allows the rec center to expand into an adjacent location.

All of this merely further demonstrates that it is ridiculous to sell the current building while trying to arrange the moving parts of new locations. It is simply a waste of money for the police to pay rent and the expense of moving into temporary facilities and to have the fire dept to have to pay rent to remain in the building. And the benefit being to quickly sell the building for well less than market value? If during the last campaign were to have said that city was so poorly run that it would do something like this then no one would have believed it!

It seems obvious to me that City should plan for construction to start in Spring of 2014. That gives time to figure out the acquisition of the Hilltop parcel, make arrangement with the fire dept, and gives them time to market, sell the current building for best price.and deal with other options of now having an 8 acre city campus. Might make sense to reserve part of the parcel to relocate city offices in order to revitalize Oak St.

If the City feels guilty about not making a quick gift to BAP then give them Iron Horse on the condition they build/remodel it into a showcase corporate HQ.

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rhys jones 1 year, 8 months ago

Why is this so urgent all of a sudden? The sale of riverfront property to BAP was originally cited as part of the Yampa St revitalization -- not that we needed extra space to store emergency vehicles. Now it becomes obvious Yampa will "vitalize" when market conditions are right, and not before. Sure, everybody wants a bigger office -- especially if they don't have to pay for it. Let future Councils worry about that. Get it while you can.

This is the first we have heard about a Hilltop site, as if it's a foregone conclusion the BAP deal will go through -- the headline of this article spells it out -- "plans for relocation of downtown emergency services" when that need has yet to be justified, especially in this economy. Again we are handed a bitter pill, and told to swallow it. Iron Horse, Three Wire, it's just one wrong move after another in this town and county, all on our dime.

We really need a mayoral system, as opposed to the status quo -- one person, ultimately responsible for what transpires. Our council system makes it too easy to dilute responsibility. Groupthink has never been known to produce the best outcome, quite the opposite.

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Peter Arnold 1 year, 8 months ago

The one recurring question that comes to mind is how was the sale price of the existing station determined and by whom? Why is this sale price repeated over and over again when the public continues to ask over and over again why is it being sold for below market value? Is this a deal breaker to revisit this topic for the involved parties and if so at whose expense? It is starting to look as though the whole story is not being reported thoroughly. Is there anyone in this town who can due investigative journalism and report a story without any appearance of partisanship or just plain incompetency. Report the players and due your background checks. Inform the public for once rather than a play by play commentary and op ed based on incomplete facts.

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