Steamboat City Council split on whether to keep Rita Valentine on list of potential sites for police station | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat City Council split on whether to keep Rita Valentine on list of potential sites for police station

Hikers descend on a path at Rita Valentine Park near Longview Circle and Hilltop Parkway. The city of Steamboat Springs was eying a 3-acre parcel of the park directly across the street from Mill Run Court as the potential site of a new police station.

— The Steamboat Springs City Council is keeping a proposal to build a new police station on a small corner of Rita Valentine Park on the table but only barely.

Four members of the council on Tuesday night were split as to whether the plan should remain one of the possible building sites they will consider next month for the facility.

Council members Sonja Macys and Walter Magill said the city should scrap the park plan after it received much criticism in the first of two public meetings to discuss it.

But members Kenny Reisman and Scott Myller said they still want to hear the plan along with the three other alternatives at a meeting Oct. 15.

"I hear you loud and clear on both sides of this one, but maybe I’m inclined to hear the whole story, though," Myller said. "To me, it does feel like a tiny corner of that open space. It is close to commercial (properties). It’s under a power line. That is not the pristine corner of the park. And I think there are some arguments as to whether that land is a park forever and ever."

A second community meeting to discuss the proposal will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in Centennial Hall.

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Council’s discussion Tuesday night started when Macys, a fierce critic of the plan, again proposed that it be scrapped.

"I have many issues of substance with paving a park and setting a precedent for making our open space parks real state development centers, for one, but I also think that terrorizing the public unnecessarily with something that we know is not viable property is completely unacceptable," Macys said.

She said she was "embarrassed" by how the plan is being handled.

Magill called the proposal "dead on arrival."

"You know we couldn’t get a Frisbee golf park in Rita Valentine. We couldn’t get a recreation center in Rita Valentine," Magill said, adding that people who live near it enjoy it the way it is. "A lot of people have gotten very upset (about this plan) and it hasn’t built us anything in the community."

Council President Bart Kounovsky and members Kevin Kaminski and Cari Hermacinski were not at Tuesday’s meeting.

It was revealed last month the city was eying the small corner of the park as a potential building site for a new 18,000-square-foot police station to replace its cramped and inefficient headquarters on Yampa Street.

City officials say the 3 acres of the park would offer a centralized location for a new police headquarters, and some of the building’s impact on neighbors could be mitigated.

The park was donated to the city in 1985 for municipal purposes, and dedicated as open space in 1992.

At a community meeting last week, several residents who live near the potential building site near Hilltop Parkway and Mill Run Court told city staff they are fans of their police department, but they strongly oppose building a new station there.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark said after that meeting that the Rita Valentine location will be one of four possible building sites presented to City Council on Oct. 15.

One of the other alternatives being considered is a remodel of the city’s current emergency services campus on Yampa Street. The other two locations have not been identified.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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