Steamboat City Council to have choice of 4 building sites for new police station at October meeting | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat City Council to have choice of 4 building sites for new police station at October meeting

One of the police station options being considered is either a remodel the current police headquarters downtown or replace it with a new station on the lot.

— When it meets Oct. 15, the Steamboat Springs City Council will have four plans to consider for building a new police station here.

City officials say the council and the community will help determine the best path forward.

Although the option to build the new station on a small corner of Rita Valentine Park received much opposition from a large audience Tuesday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, the city’s management team has decided to keep the idea in contention but also give council three other viable options.

They include remodeling or reconstructing the existing public safety campus on Yampa Street and building a new fire station west of downtown or revisiting two building sites that previously have been considered.

The two additional sites haven’t been publicly identified by the city.

City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Thursday that the goal for the October meeting is to present council a variety of plans that would give the city’s police force a far more efficient headquarters while also staying within a reasonable budget on which council will sign off.

"I know the group we met with (Tuesday) is going to be a little uncomfortable we’re letting (the Rita Valentine proposal) move forward, but the fact is that we were asked by council to turn over every stone, and we owe it to them to bring them whatever project we can that doesn’t have a land cost to it," Hinsvark said.

The small, 3-acre corner of the 35-acre Rita Valentine Park is being vetted because it would provide a centralized location for the police station at the intersection of Hilltop Parkway and Mill Run Court, and it would carry no land cost.

The land was donated to the city in 1985 to be used for municipal purposes, and it designated as a park and open space in 1992.

The plan to build there would require approval from the City Council and city voters.

It was strongly opposed by the community members who showed up for the first of two community meetings to discuss the proposal Tuesday night, but most community members said they still recognize the need for a new station.

A second community meeting on the Rita Valentine plan is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 5 at Centennial Hall.

As one alternative, the city also is looking into keeping its police force downtown.

Public Safety Director Joel Rae said the plan to stay on Yampa Street is in its infancy, but the most cost-effective way to do it would be to construct a new building on what currently is the site’s lower parking lot.

"We would be able to put basically a 9,800-square-foot footprint where our lower parking lot is on Eighth Street and on the Yampa Street side," he said.

This plan would allow the police force to remain in the existing headquarters until the new station is built, avoiding substantial costs for a temporary relocation

The current station then could be demolished and converted into parking.

Rae said cost savings would be important in that scenario because the city would lose the ability to sell 840 Yampa St. and use the proceeds on the new building.

The city estimates that to remodel the existing building wouldn’t be as cost effective because much of the building, including its electrical system, would have to be replaced and upgraded to adhere to building code.

The new police station headlines the city’s proposed capital improvement program.

In a draft version presented to council last month, the city budgeted $8.9 million for the project.

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