Steamboat City Council discusses options for public safety campus | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat City Council discusses options for public safety campus

Michael Schrantz

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is looking for other proposals for a public safety campus. Even if it's a half-baked idea, council member Kenny Reisman said to Public Safety Director Joel Rae, bring it up and let the council at least know it's been eliminated and why.

Council members and staff said they have been receiving calls from real estate agents about other properties for a public safety campus.

Council member Walter Magill asked about a long-term lease arrangement, perhaps at TIC's buildings.

Volunteer firefighter Matt Newman questioned the need to move the downtown fire station at all, noting that the extra space from police moving out could be put to use.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, Rae gave a presentation about the plan to build a public safety campus with fire and police stations on the site of the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

Saying he had to retract his previous comments, Rae explained that after going over the plan more thoroughly, parking at the transit center need not be reduced. A rendering of a potential Stock Bridge layout with a public safety campus in place actually projected a net increase of more than 20 spots, Rae said.

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Rae went through access issues, a proposed new intersection across U.S. Highway 40 from Indian Trail and how the retention of parking at Stock Bridge would eliminate the need to spend $600,000 paving additional city land for parking.

Rae also said that building on land the city already owns would take between $1.6 million and $2.3 million off the price tag of any public safety campus project.

"There's been some good work done on this site," council President Bart Kounovsky said. "I'm not ready to say this is the site."

"You heard some of the concerns, and you responded to that," Reisman said.

At its Oct. 16 meeting, the City Council directed staff to start negotiations to sell the downtown emergency services building to Big Agnes and Honey Stinger. On Tuesday, city staff confirmed they had met with the agent for the companies. Interim City Manager Deb Hinsvark said a first reading of a deal could be ready as soon as December. The projected closing date for the sale billed as an economic development measure is March 1.

The city plans to lease back the lower fire station bays for 18 months, and police services have discussed leasing space from TIC.

When asked by Magill about a longer-term lease, Rae said discussions with TIC have included talk about a provision that would kick out police services in the event the building is sold.

"We are looking at other possibilities," Raid said, adding that they still haven't found something that would guarantee a home for police for a number of years.

More discussion about the real estate deal with Big Agnes and Honey Stinger could come Nov. 13 — and that discussion could be held in open session.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich said his usual approach would be to hold the discussion in executive session. "That's what I'm most comfortable with in kicking ideas around," he said.

"There's absolutely no requirement that we discuss the sale of real estate in executive session," council member Cari Hermacinski said. "I think that might be a healthy discussion for the council."

Rae suggested having a community meeting about the sale and plans for a public safety campus.

Lettunich said sensitive negotiations about the deed of trust and restrictions placed on the sale might be best held in private.

"It may be the buyer's concern as to how much public discussion there is on that," he said.

In other City Council news:

• The City Council approved a letter of support and a $35,000 sponsorship for a USA Pro Cycling Challenge bid. The $35,000 was to come from increasing sales tax revenue projections for 2013.

• The City Council voted to reduce the amount of its contingency fund from $35,000 to $10,000. Of the $25,000 reduction, $12,000 was appropriated by motion to be used to clean the Howelsen Ice Arena, and $13,000 was allocated to keeping a downtown resource officer on police staff.

• The total cost of the downtown resource officer is $86,000. The remaining $73,000 was approved by motion to come from an increase in sales tax revenue projections for 2013.

• The City Council moved to draft a letter of support for the ice castle being planned at Ski Time Square.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

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