The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night approved the first reading of a contract to sell the city’s downtown emergency services building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger.

Photo by Scott Franz

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night approved the first reading of a contract to sell the city’s downtown emergency services building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger.

City moves closer to selling downtown emergency services building, but many questions remain

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Ty Lockhart speaks about the city's proposed sale of 840 Yampa St. on Tuesday night at a Steamboat Springs City Council meeting.

— The city of Steamboat Springs is one step closer to selling its downtown emergency services building on Yampa Street and constructing new police and fire stations to replace it.

What still isn't clear is when and where the new headquarters will be built, and at what cost.

By a 5-2 vote and after more than an hour of public comment, the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night approved the first reading of a contract to sell 840 Yampa St. to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million. Council members Cari Hermacinski and Walter Magill voted against the sale.

In the same motion, the council agreed to delay the second and final reading of the contract until Jan. 22 and after city officials have a chance to tie up what many council members called “loose ends” in the final four options to relocate the police and firefighters off of Yampa Street.

Those loose ends included determining whether the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District will commit to sharing the cost of a proposed second fire station in west Steamboat, what the city will pay in annual maintenance costs to temporarily house their police force at the Iron Horse Inn while a new station is constructed, and whether a parcel of land near the aging hotel can be secured to house that new station.

“We have an intent to sell (840 Yampa St.), but there's still some work to do,” council member Kevin Kaminski said as he summarized the council's lengthy deliberations to BAP owner Bill Gamber and the large audience in Centennial Hall.

The council deliberated at length whether to table its vote on the first reading of the sales contract until it settled on the locations for the new police and fire headquarters. But it went forward with the vote after Gamber said he couldn't guarantee he would continue with the transaction if it was delayed any longer.

“Our clock is ticking, so I can't guarantee we'll be here Jan. 22 (for another first reading),” Gamber said. “This process could get drug on and we may no longer be interested.”

If the sale of 840 Yampa St. is approved on second reading next month, the city plans to invest an estimated $113,000 to retrofit the aging Iron Horse Inn as a temporary police station.

Public Safety Director Joel Rae said Tuesday night the hotel could serve as the temporary police headquarters for as many as three years depending on when and where a new station is built.

He kicked off Tuesday's meeting by presenting the council with the final four options to construct a new police headquarters and as many as two fire stations.

As they weighed the options for where to build the new stations, a majority of council members were unable to commit to any of the options because they felt there were too many unknowns in the proposals to make a decision Tuesday.

“Unfortunatley, everything in here is kind of a 'what if?',” Kaminski said, referring to city staff's top choice to build a 15,000-square-foot police station on an 8-acre parcel of U.S. government-owned land at U.S. Highway 40 and Hilltop Parkway.

City officials acknowledge they are only in the early stages of pursuing the property, which could take more than a year to acquire in a land swap.

Public weighs in

Tuesday's vote on the sale of the downtown emergency services building attracted a large crowd to Centennial Hall.

About 25 community members spoke at the meeting, with most of them opposed to the proposed sale of the current emergency services building.

“When the city jumps into something before all the 't's' are crossed and 'i's' are dotted, we tend to jump into some trouble,” Steamboat Springs resident Paul Stettner said. “I don't see the logic in having to make a decision right away. Get all these loose ends tied up, and take your time with it.”

Stettner's request to the council to take more time to vet the relocation proposals was echoed by many others who spoke in opposition to the plan.

But others in the audience, including some local business owners, were supportive of the sale.

“The sale of the city building is a lynch pin for getting Yampa Street the way it should be,” Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Board President Bill Moser said. “Stars are aligning for us, and we need to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Darcy Owens-Trask, former director of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, told the council Steamboat is competing with Salt Lake City and Portland to retain outdoor retail jobs like those offered by Big Agnes, BAP and Honey Stinger.

She said losing those lucrative jobs would hurt the local economy.

“I would commend you if you would look carefully at what you need to do to keep these jobs in the community,” she said.

Gamber said his company never has asked the city for any incentives or support. Instead, he said it was former City Manger Jon Roberts who approached him last year with an idea to lease the building and allow his company to continue its growth in Steamboat.

As talks progressed, the proposed lease turned into a sales contract.

“We really feel we bring something good to the community,” Gamber said. “I want to make it super clear how excited we are to have this (sale) happen.”

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

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Comments

bill schurman 1 year, 4 months ago

All this reminds me of the triple crown dealings with the triple crown boss saying give us what we want or we will look elsewhere. Same now, give us what we want NOW or we'll look elsewhere. If not Big Agnes, et al, then there just may be someone else. After all isn't Cugino's in the old city hall? Besides, does Big Agnes fit into the master plan to (re)develop Yampa Street?? There is a plan isn't there ? Before giving the building away,(and that's what it is) the city ought to have a clear plan to relocate the fire/police facilities (if, in fact, that is necessary) and a reasonable way to pay for it.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Bill,

It appears that somehow the city has concluded that Big Agnes employees have a godlike power to revitalize Yampa St. So yes, not only does Big Agnes fit into the master plan for Yampa St, the city believes Big Agnes is uniquely positioned to advance the redevelopment of Yampa St.

This is rapidly becoming a textbook case of how a group of people can make truly awful decisions. The sale of the public services building is seen as having 3 advantages: raise money for a new building, redevelop Yampa St and force action on creating new buildings for police and fire. Thus, any flaw of any one part gets overridden by the desire to proceed with the overall plan. And so the validity of the claimed advantages are never seriously questioned.

The sale does a poor job of raising money for replacement buildings because it is being sold for substantially less than market price. The desire to sell it to Big Agnes prevented the city from listing the property and seeking the best price.

As Scott Ford, former head of the local economic development council, and friends point out in their letter, the sale at a subsidized to Big Agnes is a bad way for city to attempt to do economic development.

No reasonably managed organization would sell their building and move into temporary facilities in order to spur development of their new facilities.

Thus, the appeal of a grand plan that solves numerous is so great that it causes the city to ignore the fact that the grand plan fails to do anything well.

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John St Pierre 1 year, 4 months ago

Curious where the $113K costs for Iron horse came from... I did not see and request for "bids" printed anywhere.... and now I guess we see the real reason it was closed, guess it was not due to being "to expensive to operate".

It just amazing that without any real plans in place the city is moving forward. I could just imagine walking into a a busines smeeting proposing to spend several million and saying well "if this happens & this happens & this happens.... then I think this may will happen".

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Fred Duckels 1 year, 4 months ago

This shotgun wedding is reminiscent of the Iron Horse deal that was consummated in the dark of night to outfox the greedy developers.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

And so Iron Horse is good enough to be their new police station for up to 3 years??? I thought Iron Horse was not acceptable as a police station.

It'd almost be poetic justice if the fed land deal ends up falling apart and city has budget issues so then police are stuck in the Iron Horse. If you say something is unacceptable, but then accept it on a temporary basis then it is not longer unacceptable.

There are only 3 major moving pieces of school district land, federal land and the arrangement with the fire district. Meanwhile, the one absolute is selling the current facility. Where is Paulie and the Pirate Today? This is worthy of a special issue or a special show. So much material here. The Lament of Cari of having started this and is now opposed to it could use the song Children Don't Listen from Into the Wood.

And we all know that "cost sharing" with the fire dept is going to be asking fire dept to come up with a whole lot of money. A nice little mobster scene with city as Michael Corleone talking to the fire dept on the need for sharing.

Come on Paulie! They are writing it for you! All that is needed is a show!

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Melanie Turek 1 year, 4 months ago

If Scott and Fred agree this is bad, I think we can safely say it's a terrible idea :-)

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Doug,

This is more like standing next to a target at a shooting range and then barking the order "Fire". And then having a moment to ponder "Wonder what the shooters were aiming at?".

Outcome will be messy if some shooters miss their target and will be messy if some shooters hit their target.

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mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

Too much "shooting" talk going on here, Scott and Fred and Doug.

You guys need to tone it down a bit lest you incite someone to violence.

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john bailey 1 year, 4 months ago

"they're a good energetic group that will be shopping downtown"Gamber said. some one explain what is the differance if one shops at shop and hop to the south to shopping at west end liqours or going to the bakery in town. is not all of this steamboat?and i thought my area of the county was disfunctional. you try to bring people downtown and all you do is complain about the noise.you city people are as disfunctional as they come. hey, look theres another drunk............LOL

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rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Who might get incited to violence, Mark? Got your assault rifles loaded up? Scary guy.

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