City to host open house Thursday to discuss sale of emergency services building
December 11, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Joel Rae is eager to meet with community members about one of the most substantial projects the city has pursued in recent years.
"It’s a big deal," Steamboat’s public safety director said Tuesday about the city’s plan to sell its downtown emergency services building and relocate the police officers and firefighters who work inside to a larger, more efficient headquarters. "This is a lot of money. It’s a big project, probably the biggest project the city has done in years, and we want to hear what people have to say."
On Thursday, city officials will open the fire bay doors of 840 Yampa St. and host an open house for community members who want to learn more about the city’s plan to sell the building, relocate the emergency services it houses and aid a revitalization effort on Yampa Street.
The open house will be held less than a week before the Steamboat Springs City Council is scheduled to decide whether to sell the building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million and also set in motion the relocation of the emergency services.
City officials, including Rae and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart, will be present Thursday to provide the latest information on the relocation proposal.
Rae said members of the newly formed downtown revitalization committee also will attend the open house to talk specifically about their vision for a revitalized Yampa Street.
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"The whole purpose of the meeting is to provide the community an opportunity to learn more and ask questions about the sale of the downtown public safety building and to learn about the relocation site ideas we have," Rae said. "We’re comfortable with the way things are progressing."
If the building is sold, Rae is expected have until March 1 to move out his department and an additional 18 months to relocate fire services from the lower level of the building.
Rae said he and other city officials will reveal during the open house their latest options for where to relocate those services. He declined to provide any specifics Tuesday.
The proposals then will be weighed by the City Council on Dec. 18.
Rae said the city still is considering renting office space from TIC west of downtown to house the police department temporarily until a new permanent headquarters is built or identified. He said the city also is considering another option, but the details wouldn’t be revealed until Thursday.
The city plans to pay for the new fire and police stations mostly with reserve funds along with the proceeds from the sale of the Yampa building and contributions from the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District.
An evolving search
The current emergency services building on Yampa Street has served as Steamboat’s police headquarters for 32 years. According to city officials, a space study done on the building in 2002 recommended that the police department needed to "double its current workspace to function effectively."
The city’s pursuit of a new public safety campus has evolved since it first was presented publicly to the City Council in the spring.
In March, city officials asked the council to seek a property tax from voters to help construct a new public safety campus in west Steamboat at an estimated cost of $18 million to $20 million.
After that idea was rejected by the council, officials then proposed demolishing the Iron Horse Inn and replacing it with a police station or building a combined public safety campus at the site of the Stock Bridge Transit Center.
Council members voted down the Iron Horse proposal and didn’t commit to the plan to build at Stock Bridge.
Last month, Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark said the city was looking into other alternatives to bring to council next week, including constructing a new public safety campus at the site of City Hall on 10th Street.
Interviews with a majority of City Council members last month revealed division over the proposed sale of the existing public safety building.
Supporting council members labeled the sale as positive economic development and a necessary step to construct a new, more efficient headquarters for the city’s police department.
Council members who are critical of the sale questioned the spending of as much as $10 million in reserve funds during a still uncertain economy.
A growing number of local business owners have signed a letter to the council asking them to vote against the sale.
Thursday’s open house runs from 5 to 6 p.m. Food and beverages will be provided.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com