City of Steamboat Springs working to finalize four possible building sites for new police station

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— The second community meeting held Thursday night to discuss the idea of building a new police station on a corner of Rita Valentine Park went very much like the first community meeting.

Most people who attended made it clear they would oppose it.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Monday she understands the angst of community members who are critical of the idea and opposed to it still being on the table, but she said it must be weighed next month by the City Council on a larger scale.

“The thing we wanted the community to understand is that while we have 110 people who are very invested in letting us know this is not going to make them happy, we have a police station we need to provide for 12,000 people,” Hinsvark said.

She told the large audience in Centennial Hall the city never has had a fully functioning police station, and it desperately needs one.

In the coming weeks, city staff will continue vetting four possible building locations for the new headquarters, including the park and the current emergency services campus on Yampa Street.

The other two alternatives haven't been revealed, Hinsvark said, because they still are being weighed and identified by city staff.

“We have three of the sites pretty well identified. The fourth one we're going back and forth on,” she said, adding each carries its own list of pros and cons.

She said at least one of the alternatives would require a land purchase, and it isn't being named because of ongoing price negotiations.

She said the costliest site the city has explored for a new police station carried a price tag of $1.6 million.

The Rita Valentine site surfaced late in what has been an extensive search for a new and more efficient home for Steamboat's police force.

In March 2012, the search started west of downtown where 17 sites were explored, ranging from the Stock Bridge Transit Center to the current TIC headquarters. But it now is concentrated between 13th Street and Pine Grove Road, where about 85 percent of the city's police calls are generated.

Public Safety Director Joel Rae said this area would be the most ideal and effective location for a new police station.

As the city grows, even in the west, Rae said the city anticipates more and more calls still will come mostly from the base area and downtown.

And addressing some concerns from audience members who felt that a central location isn't as important because the city's police force is constantly patrolling the streets away from the station, Rae said officers are often at the headquarters for required briefings, and the location is important.

Hinsvark said having the station centrally located would save fuel costs by cutting the distance patrol vehicles have to drive to and from the building.

Rae also responded to community members who are suggesting the city open a new satellite office instead of building a new station.

“We are not a big enough police department where substations and satellite stations truly work for us,” he said.

Rita Valentine Park meets all five of the criteria the city has identified for a police station site. The qualifications include 2 to 3 acres of land, a central location, multiple access points to town and U.S. Highway 40, available utilities and an affordable land cost.

If the City Council decides to move forward with the idea Oct. 15, Hinsvark said a special election could be held in May for voters to decide whether to rezone 3 acres of the nearly 40-acre park to accommodate the station.

Steamboat's Parks and Recreation Commission currently is not involved in the vetting of the Rita Valentine site for a police station.

Hinsvark said the city feels comfortable the station could be added to the park and not interfere with a conceptual plan created for the park four years ago. That plan included such ideas as a disc golf course and a dog park but was tabled by the City Council.

The City Council will hear presentations on the four potential police sites Oct. 15.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

Comments

tom bedell 1 year ago

Sigh, the bull dookies getting deep on this issue. If it was my money I'd upgrade the current facility then take the money saved and give the underpaid police and fire men and women a raise. I also feel strongly that the only thing that should ever be built in RVP should be a monument to Rita.

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Harvey Lyon 1 year ago

I'm confused. How does where the calls come from have to do with where the Police Station is located? The jail is West of Town. The Court House is West of Town. The officers respond from their vehicle patrol area....at least in my casual observations. If we were talking precincts and foot patrols that would be different. I'm not sure I buy the "meeting excuse" as a significant driver of location. But then again I don't have the statistical studies.

And we don't need an architectural wonder of a palace for a police station. We don't need to "Go Green" and win all sorts of awards with new technologies, dirt roofs, yada yada yada. Something nice, basic, functional and Governmental like.

The City needs to stop spending money like its OPM and realize that a dollar spent here means less for equally needy projects there....

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jerry carlton 1 year ago

Spend the money for a special election on Rita Valentine park after the uproar it has caused? Government brillance and arrogance at its best.

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Scott Glynn 1 year ago

Keep the Current location and expand it over the existing parking lot with a 2nd story giving you the extra space you need and providing covered parking for the patrol cars. This keeps the presence downtown where the night life scene is, and still as central as needed to accommodate managements request for a centralized location. No land purchase and a much lower construction/remodel cost.

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John Fielding 1 year ago

There is something to be said for the position that the business of the people is best conducted out of their sight so they cannot interfere with its efficient function. It is clear that philosophy is at work to some extent in our city government. I propose to change that even knowing that we will have to accept longer decision making processes and other inefficiencies as a result of that transparency.

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John Fielding 1 year ago

For some perspective on philosophy of government I offer the following.

"Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are lead to surrender the exercise of their own will."

"Democratic Despotism", Alexis de Tocqueville

I applaud the resistance that is being exhibited by our engaged citizens.

On a slightly different note:

"There remains something special about America, the idea that individuals can manage their lives by themselves, without heavy dependence on political or administrative authority."

"The Idea of America: What it was and how it was lost" Bonner & Lemieux

I highly recommend the above collection of essays (that includes de Tocqueville) for those who would wish to restore the concepts of self determination and limited government that were among the founding principals of our great nation.

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Scott Wedel 1 year ago

Seems fundamentally pointless for city staff to proceed based upon the current criteria as long as city staff says RVP satisfies all of the current criteria. Obviously the current criteria is not correct and is not aligned with the public's interests if locating in RVP satisfies their current criteria.

But this arrogant city government is proceeding as if the unacceptable is the best option.

Just like there was nothing explicit in NASCAR rules against a driver intentionally spinning, taking unneeded pit stops or driving 30 mph slower than every other car. But when it happens it does not mean the reaction is to accept the violation of the spirit of competition.

There may not be explicit rules against giving up part of a park to create a police station, but it also clearly runs against the spirit of having a park and the public will not let it happen. It sets the precedent that every city park could be developed based upon desires of the moment by city government. It is the sort of issue that will get a petition response and exactly who is going to stand up and defend eliminating parks at the city's discretion?

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Scott Wedel 1 year ago

And on one hand city staff says how important it is to proceed with building a new police station and on the other hand consider a plan that is certainly unlikely to be approved by the voters.

The paper's online polls are not scientific and are easy to vote multiple times so it is not that meaningful that so many said that RVP was a bad idea. What is meaningful is that so few said it was a good idea. You cannot fake a lack of support in that poll. There is no other indication in anything that there is some groundswell of people that want to give up a chunk of a park for a police station.

And the idea that a park which has a history of a strong constituency wanting to keep it as open space would find an intensive commercial use like a police station as acceptable is crazy. An idea to allow development of a little for Horizon residential home might find supporters, but asking for a police station is madness.

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walt jones 1 year ago

“The thing we wanted the community to understand is that while we have 110 people who are very invested in letting us know this is not going to make them happy, we have a police station we need to provide for 12,000 people,” Hinsvark said.

Once again our fearless city leader making classless remarks. She will only be satisfied when she gets her way with everything on her agenda.

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John Fielding 1 year ago

If there are 110 who show up to express their opposition there are at least 1100 who hold with that view but can or will not come forth. I was unable to attend either presentation due to other commitments, but it does not mean I do not take the issue to heart.

Very well, let it go to a vote. It is not the best use of our resources, but nothing else is likely to convince them to stop expending our resources on it.

It may also be the only way to get them to quit hiding what they are doing from those who they are doing it for.

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John Fielding 1 year ago

There are layers of protection between the people and their servants. At the candidate briefing the other day we were advised of protocols. The council members must not give any direction to staff, may ask a few questions that's it. Everything goes from council to the city manager, then on to staff. And council members may not give any direction to the city manager, only make their views known to the council president who then speaks to the city manager. Similarly, if the city manager "has a problem" with a council member, it is communicated through the council president.

The accountability chain is hard to pull anything with. Try being an ordinary citizen having a difficulty with a city staffer, who do you go to? A part time council member? A city manager who needs the support and cooperation of the staff? The supervisor of that staffer who gave them the direction that presented you with that difficulty?

There need to be some changes to the way we manage our municipal affairs. I propose a consumers advocate for the citizens of our fair city.

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Kevin Nerney 1 year ago

Harvey, there is an old saying about strength and security in numbers. The State Troopers are on the west side, as are the Sheriff's. Should the "Indians" come over the pass the city PD would do well to be huddled with their brethren. No Rob I'm not threatening the cops here. I know how everyone loves to hear stories about the Big City (NY) so here comes another one. Most Precincts in NY have a nickname related to a fort attached to them. The most famous being the 41 in the Bronx glamorized by Paul Newman with Ed Asner as the Captain, in Fort Apache. Ed Asner's rant about the population in that neighborhood is not only so true of the times but one of the best in movie history.(Unfortunately I have forgotten the words verbatim), but that is not the one I'm talking about here. That would be the 66 Pct. in Brooklyn, known as Fort Surrender when Hasidic Jews stormed the station house and took over when one of there own was arrested. Put the station house on the west side and prepare for the worst case scenario, even if it never comes to pass.

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Bill Whittemore 1 year ago

I feel that the Steamboat government should not waste our tax money in building a fully new Police Station. Instead, they should remodel the Iron Horse, into being a Police Station, With a future Fire Station using the same building. Wouldn't that make a lot of sense? Unless the Police would ask Routt County, if they could share the court house (at Ace Hardware) . The city and county, working together, seams like a great idea.

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