Hikers descend on a path at Rita Valentine Park near Longview Circle and Hilltop Parkway. The city of Steamboat Springs was eying a 3-acre parcel of the park directly across the street from Mill Run Court as the potential site of a new police station.

Photo by Scott Franz

Hikers descend on a path at Rita Valentine Park near Longview Circle and Hilltop Parkway. The city of Steamboat Springs was eying a 3-acre parcel of the park directly across the street from Mill Run Court as the potential site of a new police station.

City eyes Rita Valentine Park as potential site of new police station in Steamboat Springs


Reader poll

What do you think of the idea to build a police station on a corner of Rita Valentine Park?

  • I support it. If it's where the city thinks is the best and most cost-effective place to build, that's where it should go 11%
  • I oppose it. It's not an ideal place to build a police station 87%
  • I'm torn 2%

828 total votes.

— The city of Steamboat Springs has identified a small corner of Rita Valentine Park as the best location to build its new police station.

Public Safety Director Joel Rae said the city-owned site, which is near the intersection of Longview Circle and Hilltop Parkway, is now at the top of the city's list of potential building sites because it is centrally located and carries no land cost.

“It also allows us to best serve the community,” Rae said as he explained having the police headquarters off of Hilltop Parkway places the facility more in the center of calls for police service. “It's the center of activity if you look at where our calls come from."

Rae and the police department recently sent out letters to more than 200 property owners who border the park informing them of the potential plan and inviting them to discuss it at two community meetings Aug. 27 and Sept. 5.

Some park neighbors said Monday they strongly oppose the plan and were surprised to hear it is being considered.

Rae stressed the decision on the site is not yet final and is pending community feedback and direction from the Steamboat Springs City Council.

“The biggest concern is that this is zoned as open space land,” Rae said. “This is obviously something that the community would really need to embrace, and it would ultimately be something that may need to go to a public vote to find out if the residents of Steamboat Springs fully support this idea or not.”

The park is named in memory of Rita Valentine, a longtime Steamboat City Council member who died 15 years ago.

As a council member in the 1980s and '90s, Valentine played a leadership role in the construction of the Yampa River Core Trail.

The park was gifted to the city in 1985 and was envisioned to remain as open space.

Rita's husband, Don Valentine, said Monday the city's vetting of the property for a potential police station angers him.

“The main thing is why put something like that in a residential area?,” he said. “Why destroy a beautiful piece of open space? A police station doesn't belong there.”

Scott Owens, who would live directly across the street from the station, also said he was opposed to the plan.

“The biggest issue is it's a park,” he said. “It's not a development site.”

He said dog walkers and hikers enjoy the park as it is today, and it also hosts wildlife such as elk.

A conceptual design for the park in 2009 included long-range plans for a road through the property along with a turf field, a second parking lot, a disc golf course, a picnic area, a skate park and a climbing wall.

Those plans were scaled back after they faced opposition from many neighboring residents and others who liked the park as it was with only a few trails.

For about three acres of the 35-acre park to be rezoned to accommodate the police station, the proposal would need buy in from the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreation Commission and the City Council.

Rae said it may turn out that it's feasible to build the station there, or it may become clear the community will not embrace the project at that location.

“People who border that area will have the largest impact in their neighborhood,” Rae said. “The first step is to reach out to them and get feedback on the proposed idea.”

He said while the park is the city's preferred location for the station, the city has other alternatives including the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

The city wants to start construction on the new 18,000-square-foot police station next year at an estimated cost of $8.9 million. The proposed plan calls for a 12,000-square-foot building and 6,000 square feet of garage and warehouse space.

For nearly two years, the city has been working on plans to move police and firefighters out of the current downtown public safety building on Yampa Street.

City officials say the current headquarters are cramped and emergency services need more space to operate to remain effective.

Proposed police station

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

The most effective location for a police station should be evaluated on what is the most effective location and not limited to city owned properties. The police station is to be a permanent solution and it's location should not be compromised to properties currently owned by the city.

There is no shortage of vacant parcels along South Lincoln Ave which appear to be the preferred possible sites.

If sacrificing part of Rita Valentine Park is considered a wise move then City could just as easily rezone the 3 acres to residential lots and sell those to raise money.


Cresean Sterne 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't even know how to respond to this except, NO..NO..NO..NO..NO.. I cannot believe that this was even proposed..This is a memorial park and one of the last beautiful open spaces left that has'nt been destroyed by development. It is not centrally located and I can't imagine sirens going up and down Angers through that quiet community. The elk who have migrated there will dissapear and Rita will be spinning in her grave. Don, I will stand by your side signing any petition to make sure that this never happens. I do not belive the community will let it.. ..IMO.. the council has lost all credibility when it comes to common sense decisions and smart growth. I dont like being negative towards anyone but this tomfoolery needs to stop. Its almost like they are trying to sneak there way back in to previous locations spots by knowing the kind of negative reactions this would bring.


Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

Transit Center is also a terrible choice because it is supposed to be overflow parking for downtown. The whole intent of that project was to locate parking next to transit.

BTW, Cresean, access would not be via Anglers, but via Hilltop. So it won't mean additional traffic on Angler's.

Personally, I'd like to see a proposal of keeping the current station and moving out certain functions to create enough room. Maybe everything doesn't have to be under one roof. Could they make a micro station nearby for walk in and interview rooms? And so on.


Cresean Sterne 1 year, 4 months ago

I bet they could squeeze it somewhere in the meadows lot or relocate YVEA and they could expand into that side. Splitting up some functions is not a bad idea and it would most likely cost a lot less.


cindy constantine 1 year, 4 months ago

Let's hope we have more quality candidates running like Scott Ford. Any ideas who is going to run in District 1 to replace Cari?


rhys jones 1 year, 4 months ago

Rita Valentine misses the mark: Can't we find them a golf course somewhere?

Re/City Council -- I have a novel suggestion, actually an expansion on Mark's idea: Why don't we select them much the same as juries? Send out notices at random, the Reps and Dems have selected their representatives to quiz the prospects, each side has so many peremptory challenges, vital professions like doctors and dishwashers are automatically exempt, and if neither side has any valid objections -- you're in!!

That might limit the pre-existing agendas, anyway.


mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

Golf course sounds good to me too Rhys. Biggest wasters of prime real estate; not to mention water. Mark Twain was right when he called that game "a good walk spoiled".

Seriously, I expected YVEA to take TIC's old place. That would give room for the police station there, no?


Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

I think YVEA bought the entire parcel at the end of the road to nowhere and will eventually be locating out there.


Victoria Hopkins 1 year, 4 months ago

I wish I could say I'm sorry to hear this or better that it's a surprise. The head men in charge have been taking what they want since Chris showed up on those sun dappled shores. What is amazing is everyone's shock at the proposed plan, people in this city have been scrambling to fill every inch this valley has to offer since it was high jacked from the native people. Now they want to lay waste to your piece of paradise, I seriously doubt anyone will be able to do anything about it. Gather your signs, get out the clip boards, go and fight for the little parcel of land. They may not take it now, but the man gets what he wants and in a few years it'll be paved or built upon. However I wish you the best of luck in your battle.


mark hartless 1 year, 4 months ago

"...hijacked from the native people..." ???

It always seemed funny to me that many folks seem to be under the impression that THEIR little piece of this valley was not in the tract of land that was "hijacked".

Nor do they seem to realize that THEIR homes and businesses and children, etc live here in relative peace and safety because of the police.

I also think it ammusing that people put up such a fight for land they percieve as "theirs" when it's a park, bike trail, etc used for recreation, but not when it is to be used for public safety. It's as if they can only feel connected to something if it is set aside to provide an immediate benefit to them personally and basically no benefit to the largest number of citizens.

Ironic, since those who probably work the most hours/week to provide the tax base for those venues in the first place...( ie many working stiffs) probably don't even know where Rita Valentine Park is, who Rita Valentine was, or why they should care.


dave mcirvin 1 year, 4 months ago

a site very near south Lincoln, with quick access to 40, makes a great deal of sense....perhaps relocate one tennis court, ball diamond/soccer field between the Meadows lot and the fire station.


John Fielding 1 year, 3 months ago


I had a lengthy discussion of locating the station today with one of their highest ranking officers. He does not think it will fly at RV, and its not his first choice either. We also reviewed the new Emerald access road, (price, wetlands), Iron Horse, (demolition of an asset), and TIC, (far west). The most favorable scenarios, we agreed, were take over the whole of the existing building as the fire dept relocates west, or better yet, make do with some nearby rental spaces and keep saving our money till YVEA becomes available. (Then also add a patio/green roof topped parking structure on the empty lot across 10th street).

Is there a good reason the police should not be on Yampa Street? I think its a great place for them.

And Cindy, I live in district one, and am considering running again. Your support would be very meaningful to me as I respect your positions on many issues.



John Fielding 1 year, 3 months ago

. Do we have something to offer YVEA that would entice them to a trade?



Cresean Sterne 1 year, 3 months ago

That might be a little far if they are trying to be centraly located. I have always liked the location they are now and response time seemed good. 7th st. and the Tugboat have always been the trouble spots in the evening. If they have the opportunity to expand into the entire building it should be considered.


Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago


If there isn't the cash available to buy a property then they could sell a property or other city owned assets. That is the same as a three party swap.

A straight swap tends to be hard to pull off because it requires both parties to want the other's property.

In terms of a possible location, I note the parcel that is for sale behind Staples.


John Fielding 1 year, 3 months ago


Sory Scott, over-exercising my sense of humor. As my wife agrees, its a good thing that I find myself amusing, at least that's one.



rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

Oh sure, let's just stick Steamboat's Finest out in the boonies, with the crocodiles.

I still think a Country Club is in order here...


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