Steamboat City Council to weigh sale of emergency services building at Tuesday meeting
December 16, 2012
If you go
What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting
When: 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
Where: Centennial Hall
Steamboat Springs — The police officers and firefighters who work at 840 Yampa St. likely will find out Tuesday whether the Steamboat Springs City Council will commit to building them a new headquarters.
Early in its meeting that is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in Centennial Hall, the council will weigh the city’s final four proposals to relocate its emergency services headquarters out of the downtown area.
Council members then will decide whether to approve the first reading of a contract to sell the city’s current emergency services building to BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger for $2.1 million.
If approved on the first reading Tuesday night, the council is scheduled to consider a second and final reading of the sales contract Jan. 8.
As the council’s vote on whether to endorse the sale approaches, community members are speaking out in favor and in opposition to the contract.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett, along with several other business owners on Yampa Street, recently wrote letters to the council strongly supporting the transaction.
They think replacing the emergency services with a growing local business on Yampa Street would bolster a revitalization effort on the roadway and in downtown.
"As (Yampa) street becomes busier and busier, and with the goal being a vital entertainment street that can accommodate festivals, farmers market, music, restaurants and access to the river, the conflicts that could arise with the public safety services remaining on Yampa are evident," Barnett wrote to the council.
Referring to the proposed sale to the triumvirate of local outdoor retailers, Barnett added that "support for a local business to grow its own right here where it was founded should be applauded and encouraged."
But others in the community have questioned Steamboat’s need for a new public safety campus and are urging the city to take more time to weigh whether the city should sell its current building in a weak real estate market.
Mark Halvorson, president of Snow Country Construction, wrote to the council that while he was supportive of moving emergency services off Yampa Street, he didn’t agree with the plan to sell the building for below its appraised value.
"I totally disagree with how Council is going about this from the respect that you are moving too fast and not completing tasks in the order that construction and development should occur," he wrote.
A letter written by local economist Scott Ford and business adviser Roger Good earlier this month opposing the sale has been signed by more than 50 community members and business owners.
Along with all the community feedback, council members also have received new details about the proposed sale and their city’s final four options to relocate emergency services off Yampa Street.
In a memo to council, Public Safety Director Joel Rae wrote that for $330 per day, the city will have the ability to keep its police operations in the current downtown building for 90 days after the expected March 1 closing date.
Clawback provisions in the contract would prevent Big Agnes from selling the building’s parking lot parcels without city approval for seven years. During that time period, the buyers also must occupy at least half of the building.
The buyers also have agreed to let the city rent back the lower-level fire bays for 18 months at a cost of $108,000.
If the sale is approved, Rae plans to temporarily establish a police headquarters at the Iron Horse Inn after the city invests an estimated $113,000 to retrofit the aging hotel into a police station.
Rae said the move is more affordable and carries less risk than renting office space at TIC west of town for a cost of $10,000 per month.
City officials said they vetted 14 potential sites as they narrowed down the list of relocation options to the final four that were revealed at an open house last week.
Council members already have passed on previous proposals to demolish the Iron Horse Inn and replace it with a police station or to seek a property tax increase from voters to help fund the construction of an $18 million to 20 million public safety campus in west Steamboat.
Today, the city’s preferred plan is to build a new 15,000-square-foot police station on U.S. government-owned land at Hilltop Parkway and U.S. Highway 40.
The city also would construct a new fire station at the Stock Bridge Transit Center, and another small station west of downtown between Steamboat II and Heritage Park.
The new buildings would be paid for with an estimated $8.2 million from the city’s unrestricted reserves along with revenue from the sale of the current downtown emergency services building ($2.1 million), potential DOLA and Energy Impact grants, and money from a potential cost sharing with the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com