Steamboat City Council discusses options for public safety campus


— The Steamboat Springs City Council is looking for other proposals for a public safety campus. Even if it’s a half-baked idea, council member Kenny Reisman said to Public Safety Director Joel Rae, bring it up and let the council at least know it’s been eliminated and why.

Council members and staff said they have been receiving calls from real estate agents about other properties for a public safety campus.

Council member Walter Magill asked about a long-term lease arrangement, perhaps at TIC’s buildings.

Volunteer firefighter Matt Newman questioned the need to move the downtown fire station at all, noting that the extra space from police moving out could be put to use.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Rae gave a presentation about the plan to build a public safety campus with fire and police stations on the site of the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

Saying he had to retract his previous comments, Rae explained that after going over the plan more thoroughly, parking at the transit center need not be reduced. A rendering of a potential Stock Bridge layout with a public safety campus in place actually projected a net increase of more than 20 spots, Rae said.

Rae went through access issues, a proposed new intersection across U.S. Highway 40 from Indian Trail and how the retention of parking at Stock Bridge would eliminate the need to spend $600,000 paving additional city land for parking.

Rae also said that building on land the city already owns would take between $1.6 million and $2.3 million off the price tag of any public safety campus project.

“There’s been some good work done on this site,” council President Bart Kounovsky said. “I’m not ready to say this is the site.”

“You heard some of the concerns, and you responded to that,” Reisman said.

At its Oct. 16 meeting, the City Council directed staff to start negotiations to sell the downtown emergency services building to Big Agnes and Honey Stinger. On Tuesday, city staff confirmed they had met with the agent for the companies. Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark said a first reading of a deal could be ready as soon as December. The projected closing date for the sale billed as an economic development measure is March 1.

The city plans to lease back the lower fire station bays for 18 months, and police services have discussed leasing space from TIC.

When asked by Magill about a longer-term lease, Rae said discussions with TIC have included talk about a provision that would kick out police services in the event the building is sold.

“We are looking at other possibilities,” Raid said, adding that they still haven’t found something that would guarantee a home for police for a number of years.

More discussion about the real estate deal with Big Agnes and Honey Stinger could come Nov. 13 — and that discussion could be held in open session.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich said his usual approach would be to hold the discussion in executive session. “That’s what I’m most comfortable with in kicking ideas around,” he said.

“There’s absolutely no requirement that we discuss the sale of real estate in executive session,” council member Cari Hermacinski said. “I think that might be a healthy discussion for the council.”

Rae suggested having a community meeting about the sale and plans for a public safety campus.

Lettunich said sensitive negotiations about the deed of trust and restrictions placed on the sale might be best held in private.

“It may be the buyer’s concern as to how much public discussion there is on that,” he said.

In other City Council news:

• The City Council approved a letter of support and a $35,000 sponsorship for a USA Pro Cycling Challenge bid. The $35,000 was to come from increasing sales tax revenue projections for 2013.

• The City Council voted to reduce the amount of its contingency fund from $35,000 to $10,000. Of the $25,000 reduction, $12,000 was appropriated by motion to be used to clean the Howelsen Ice Arena, and $13,000 was allocated to keeping a downtown resource officer on police staff.

• The total cost of the downtown resource officer is $86,000. The remaining $73,000 was approved by motion to come from an increase in sales tax revenue projections for 2013.

• The City Council moved to draft a letter of support for the ice castle being planned at Ski Time Square.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email


Fred Duckels 4 years, 6 months ago

In the city it seems that ideas must form around the water cooler. I have noticed that once the "city line" has been established the faithful seem to rally and the Lemming march is on, be it good or bad.


Richard Bear 4 years, 6 months ago

Seems like all the ideas so far have been "half-baked" so why exclude those ideas now?


Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

Half baked? Selling the existing building before a plan or a location for it's replacement is eating it before it is even put in the oven. Not even sure if the ingredients have been put in a bowl and mixed.

Anyway, why not 4th and Oak for the fire station barn? Central location with good access to major streets.


John St Pierre 4 years, 6 months ago

I was at the meeting last night... discussion centered at one point with discussion of the Police dept being relocated to the TCI campus on a temp basis; a major issue there , if TIC sells the PD has to vacate immediately.... why not Lease Modular office units (built to police use specs) and locate them on free property: the parking lot next to city hall, Transit center property, etc....or even better lease a spot on the always empty Sheriff/dispatch parking lot from the county (recycling our money at home)?????


Steve Lewis 4 years, 6 months ago

This is a self-created storm. Cancel the Big Agnes negotiations and suddenly we have plenty of time. Suddenly we have a rational approach to City infrastructure.

Cari Hermacinski, along with Scott Mylar, spent months on it and authorized the concept of this move. Now Cari is the most vocal opponent of the sale and the most interested in maintaining City reserves by leasing somewhere.

I have attended every meeting. I understand none of it. I asked Council to make their case why Big Agnes is the driving force for City infrastructure spending. An answer seems fair.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

Steve, But Big Agnes on Yampa St is going to transform the street and increase retail sales by millions. Just like how they transformed Oak St.

So it doesn't matter how much the City loses in the sale or how much it costs in reserves, Big Agnes on Yampa St changes everything and the city will get it's money back in a few years.

You've seen the impact BAP has had on Oak St. Just think of the impact it will have it they are located on Yampa.


Steve Lewis 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott, It does help to look at the pieces on their own merits.

City officials have characterized the tentative sale as the key to accomplishing several goals, including helping to finance a new police and fire station at another site, providing economic development for a local business, and stimulating the adjacent commercial district .

Taken from today's article, that fairly states what the City has been saying. Unfortunately it is a better sales pitch, of bundled "benefits", than it is a presentation of municipal success. Take the bundled items separately and each one's success is better judged.

For instance, the earlier sales pitch included resolving the Iron Horse debt among it's goals. When that was weighed alone as a matter of municipal policy, the Iron Horse was discarded from the mix.

Take each of the remaining goals: 1) helping to finance a new police and fire station at another site. 2) providing economic development for a local business 3) stimulating the adjacent commercial district

Taken as a matter of municipal policy, how do these goals rank in importance to a City? What are the supporting metrics of success in each?

How much do the terms and timing of the sale of this City property actually improve City finances? How much do they actually develop a local business? How much do they actually stimulate a commercial district?


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