Steamboat Springs 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.