Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night officially ruled out Rita Valentine Park as a potential site for a police station and gave city staff a couple of months to vet some alternative locations.
The city now has until December to come back to council with other options for the station.
The new timeline allows for the two new council members who are sworn in after the November election to have a say in the project.
“This is a very large project for our city. We don't see projects of this size very often,” City Manager Deb Hinsvark said before the council voted unanimously to table the park idea at the city's request. “We are learning as we go, and we are fortunate we have the consultants we need to evaluate sites. I would say we made some mistakes, and we've learned some lessons in this process.”
Some council members said the process has been a “rocky road” at times.
After it had another discussion about how much of a need a new police station is, the council then voted, 4-2, to continue embarking on the project.
Council President Bart Kounovsky noted the body voted unanimously in May that the station was a need.
He was joined by members Walter Magill, Kenny Reisman and Scott Myller in saying the city should push on.
“If you take a walk through that (current police) building, it's clear as day what the need is,” Reisman said.
That sentiment was shared by a majority of the 50 or so people who toured the police station in the spring and noted how cramped and inefficient it was.
But not all council members see the project as urgent or pressing.
Cari Hermacinski and Sonja Macys wanted to pause the process.
“We should take a breath and think about this money we're spending and figure out if the community is asking us to spend it,” Hermacinski said. “In our last budget hearing in October, a new police station wasn't on the six-year (capital improvement program). It was on the secondary parked projects list.”
Although Rita Valentine Park never will become a police station, there was some early talk Tuesday night from some council members of having Steamboat's Parks and Recreation Commission revisit a conceptual plan for Rita Valentine that was tabled in 2009 after some blowback from neighbors.
“I think we overreacted,” council member Walter Magill said about the tabling of the plans that included such ideas for the park as a disc golf course and a dog park. “It's still a park that's misunderstood by the community.”
He said the current master planning process for Emerald Mountain Park is revealing a number of parks and recreation needs the community has that could be satisfied at Rita Valentine.
Things like a disc golf course or dog park cannot be realized at Emerald Mountain because of its designation as open space.
But Magill said he thinks Rita Valentine could potentially take those on.
“I think we should do other things in that park,” he said.
The plan could be discussed at a Parks and Recreation Commission 2014 goal-setting meeting scheduled for next month.
The City Council's next meeting is a full-day budget hearing Oct. 1 in Centennial Hall.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.
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