City’s search for public safety campus continues to evolve
November 24, 2012
Yampa sale progresses
The city’s search for a new public safety campus became more urgent last month when the City Council voted to let city officials begin negotiating the sale of the downtown emergency services building to Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million.
Hinsvark said Wednesday that negotiations with the buyers were complete, and an inspection of the building is under way. She expects a completed sale contract to be presented to the council for approval next month.
If the sale of the emergency services building goes through as planned, police would have until March 1 to move out of the building, and the city will have 18 months to move out its firefighters.
Steamboat Springs — The city of Steamboat Springs’ mission to find a new home for its downtown fire and police stations continues to evolve.
And the search hasn’t been easy.
The city’s search to the west has been slowed by environmental issues with some properties that have wetlands. Staying in the downtown area could require the addition of underground parking or an expensive realignment of a major intersection.
As she outlined the latest options for the construction of a public safety campus, Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Wednesday city staff is continuing to "poke at every possibility it can poke."
"We’ve homed in on what we think are some other logical places for this public safety campus, one being right here" at City Hall, Hinsvark said.
She said that plan would demolish the existing building on 10th Street and replace it with a 49,000-square-foot public safety campus to house a new City Hall, commercial space along Lincoln Avenue and underground parking.
But the estimated the $18 million to $20 million price tag of that project would put the relocation cost far above the $11 million the city estimates it would take to construct a public safety facility at Stock Bridge Transit Center.
Hinsvark added that a variation of the City Hall plan would build up the existing building and house a police headquarters on a second story. The downtown firefighting services could then be relocated to Stock Bridge.
City officials were sent back to the drawing board last month when the City Council voted down one of their initial proposals to demolish the Iron Horse Inn and replace it with a police station.
But another option Hinsvark has labeled as "second tier" would trade the Iron Horse property to Harry Dike for his 1.4-acre parcel at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue. The property also borders Colorado Mountain College land.
"The (swap) was discussed, but it hasn’t been fully vetted," Hinsvark said, adding that building on Dike’s land would require a costly realignment of 13th Street.
Dike said Tuesday he was approached this month by employees with the city’s police department to gauge his willingness to sell the property.
He said the employees came back with a proposal to instead swap the Iron Horse for his property. Dike had told the city he would consider a sale price of $2.3 million.
Dike’s property, which also borders the city’s Iron Springs park, was nearly purchased by CMC in 2010 to build an access road to the campus’ new academic center. However, the college backed out of the sale.
This month, Dike gave the city more details on his property and the city provided him with a financial report outlining the operating costs and revenues of the Iron Horse.
But Dike said the discussions stalled when he wasn’t satisfied with the city’s reporting of the finances at the motel.
He added it would be a significant challenge to make the existing Iron Horse facility profitable.
"I told them, ‘You want me to jump into a sizzler that you guys ran into the ground’," Dike said. "It’s going to take some time, a few years of work, and some money" to turn the Iron Horse into something profitable.
After another year of running in the red, hotel operations at the Iron Horse were ceased by the city this month.
According to city officials, the hotel cost about $380,000 last year to operate and returned $341,368 in revenue. The city also spends $58,000 annually for other overhead expenses related to the hotel.
Monthly rentals inside a separate building at the Iron Horse continue to run as normal.
Hinsvark said that early in the search for a public safety campus location, the city saw an opportunity to absolve itself of the Iron Horse at the same time it secured a location for a new public safety campus.
"The Iron Horse is always an issue that we definitely want to find a resolution for," she said. "We wrapped it into (this search) thinking we could kill two birds with one stone. But it has become clear the community and the majority of the council don’t want us to do that in one move."
She said developers have called the city in recent weeks inquiring about the property.
City officials will present the latest options for a public safety campus to the Steamboat Springs City Council next month.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com