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.

Steamboat City Council split on whether to keep Rita Valentine on list of potential sites for police station


Past Event

Police station public meeting

  • Thursday, September 5, 2013, 5 p.m.
  • Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available


— The Steamboat Springs City Council is keeping a proposal to build a new police station on a small corner of Rita Valentine Park on the table but only barely.

Four members of the council on Tuesday night were split as to whether the plan should remain one of the possible building sites they will consider next month for the facility.

Council members Sonja Macys and Walter Magill said the city should scrap the park plan after it received much criticism in the first of two public meetings to discuss it.

But members Kenny Reisman and Scott Myller said they still want to hear the plan along with the three other alternatives at a meeting Oct. 15.

“I hear you loud and clear on both sides of this one, but maybe I'm inclined to hear the whole story, though,” Myller said. “To me, it does feel like a tiny corner of that open space. It is close to commercial (properties). It's under a power line. That is not the pristine corner of the park. And I think there are some arguments as to whether that land is a park forever and ever.”

A second community meeting to discuss the proposal will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in Centennial Hall.

Council's discussion Tuesday night started when Macys, a fierce critic of the plan, again proposed that it be scrapped.

“I have many issues of substance with paving a park and setting a precedent for making our open space parks real state development centers, for one, but I also think that terrorizing the public unnecessarily with something that we know is not viable property is completely unacceptable,” Macys said.

She said she was “embarrassed” by how the plan is being handled.

Magill called the proposal “dead on arrival.”

“You know we couldn't get a Frisbee golf park in Rita Valentine. We couldn't get a recreation center in Rita Valentine,” Magill said, adding that people who live near it enjoy it the way it is. “A lot of people have gotten very upset (about this plan) and it hasn't built us anything in the community.”

Council President Bart Kounovsky and members Kevin Kaminski and Cari Hermacinski were not at Tuesday's meeting.

It was revealed last month the city was eying the small corner of the park as a potential building site for a new 18,000-square-foot police station to replace its cramped and inefficient headquarters on Yampa Street.

City officials say the 3 acres of the park would offer a centralized location for a new police headquarters, and some of the building's impact on neighbors could be mitigated.

The park was donated to the city in 1985 for municipal purposes, and dedicated as open space in 1992.

At a community meeting last week, several residents who live near the potential building site near Hilltop Parkway and Mill Run Court told city staff they are fans of their police department, but they strongly oppose building a new station there.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark said after that meeting that the Rita Valentine location will be one of four possible building sites presented to City Council on Oct. 15.

One of the other alternatives being considered is a remodel of the city's current emergency services campus on Yampa Street. The other two locations have not been identified.

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

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John Fielding 3 years, 6 months ago

Again I ask, why are the other two locations being kept secret? What exactly is the strategic value of not having preliminary discussion as a proposal is developed?

Regardless of the option favored, If any plan involves spending more that a million dollars or so it should be approved by the voters. The fact we have accumulated substantial reserves should not mean they can be spent on a big ticket item without specific taxpayer approval. Saving that much money is like a tax increase by budget cutting.

If such a decision is not put to a vote I will help lead a petition to overturn it. And I propose a measure to limit councils discretionary spending to a very modest amount.


Cresean Sterne 3 years, 6 months ago

I believe the city is loosing more and more respect from the community with these kind of foolish decisions. It is quite obvious that the community does not want it where a preservation site has been established and they should just let it be and move on. 3 acres is a large chunk of land not a tiny section that they have said. These are the kind of words that are quite frusterating. It will be under power lines and close to commercial property. SO WHAT ...That has nothing to do with this preserved site. The word preserved means to leave it alone and for good reason. First it will be 3 acres and then I can see them wanting to detroy more of it for future development just like other open space chunks of land that are no longer here anymore. One of the reasons people moved here was because of all the open space that was around the valley and now the city wants to start developing in one of the last open spaces here. (A memorial park, dog park and elk sanctuary to boot)..We have lego land Steamboat to bits in the last 10-15 years and the open space beauty has rapidy dissapeared. This is not positive but instead negative growth and development to the valley. The city needs to put an end to this way of thinking and start to focus again on preservation or Stmbt will become ugly and destroyed with development decisions such as this. I look forward to the upcoming elections and any petition that need signing as I know many do. Look out council, I believe that internal changes will be headed your way and there is no one to blame but yourselves..


Michael Bird 3 years, 6 months ago

In order to make a fair and impartial decision, one needs to consider all alternatives. The City would be remiss in their duty if this space were excluded. It was given for municipal use. I am not for or against the usage of a small part of the Park for a police station. I am against a NIMBY approach. The City must approach it for a " what is best for all of the citizens " and that means not spending unnecessarily to acquire land if it already owns land that can be used for a police or fire station. I am not saying that this park is the best alternative. I agree that all other locations should be mentioned so that a full and transparent discussion can take place and that the voters must select the location. It isn't fair to berate the City staff for doing what they are hired to do


Scott Wedel 3 years, 6 months ago

The parcel was given to the city for municipal use. The city with the public's support decided the municipal use was to be a park and it was dedicated to as a park.

Obviously city staff and two city council members disagree with the public and would like to undedicate it as a park. They consider a park that preserves the land in a natural state to be the same as a vacant parcel waiting to be developed.

This proposal appears to be seeking revenge on those that wanted it kept in a natural state. City staff and two city council members are saying that if it had been developed as a park with ball fields, parking and a frisbee golf course then, of course, it would be a park not considered for development. City staff and two on city council are telling the public that since it was left in a natural state then they consider it a vacant lot waiting for development.

Also, city staff is keeping the alternative sites secret because that is the mindset of the city manager. She wants to control the process Stating the other sites allows the public to consider and possibly criticize the options.


John Fielding 3 years, 6 months ago

Of course there will be criticism of the options, nothing can possibly satisfy everyone. But that is part of the process, "constructive criticism" can be very valuable. If the Rita Valentine park site had been mentioned in an early presentation of a dozen potential sites it would have received enough initial feedback that it would likely not have been explored further, for good reasons. Instead much time and money was spent developing the plan for presentation, That is what is happening now with the two "mystery sites".

Before any more is spent on this process we need to go back to square one. It is not even a foregone conclusion that the station must be moved, only that more room is needed. The process of considering relocation needs to start with a long list, the dozen or score most likely sites, for public review and comment. Only after that initial feedback should the short list be drawn up. We have been excluded from that part of the decision making process. The result is ongoing wasted efforts and a loss of confidence and respect for those who are continuing to keep the discussions out of the public eye.


Cresean Sterne 3 years, 6 months ago

Maybe I was a little rash in my statement but its hard to believe that RVP was even proposed. There were about 7 police officers in the late 80's and now I think we are over 20 or so. It is quite obviouse to me that more space is needed. This should be well thought out and planned to fit in with what Stmbt is. Any park, sactuary or donated land for the purpose of preservation should be off limits to any such development accept maybe for the occasional purpose of accepted recreation for public use (voter approved) that has a minimal impact to the land. I am leaning more twords a smaller substation on the mountain that would allow for a faster response time throughout Stmbt. Then maybe some of those hundreds of dispatch reports of "A suspicious drunk person or what not was seen trying to get into a car at so and so street" "By the time police arrived the person was no where to be found" I am not harping on the police. I believe they are doing the best they can and do a great job. They obviously have a lot going on between all the dispatch calls between town and the mountain. A substation would greatly relieve some of that pressure.


Kevin Nerney 3 years, 6 months ago

Has anyone ever seen an aerial shot of the island of Manhattan NY. Building packed in like sardines. In the middle of that chaos is 640 acres called Central Park. Probably some of the most expensive real estate in the world, yet they haven't built on it yet and they never will. They are in dire need of more space yet preserve what should be preserved. We have plenty of space and despite the fact that after 13 years of living in this town I have never been in Rita Valentine Park I don't think the police should take one inch of that area.


Martha D Young 3 years, 6 months ago

As a fellow native of New York and a person who uses Rita Valentine Park and the M & H preserve regularly I thank Kevin for his comment. The cavalier attitude of two members of council and the city manager toward the park flies in the face of all the survey results that have said that what we want most here is open space. Please listen to your constituents, council, and direct your staff away from RVP.


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