Despite potential complications ahead, police station committee reaffirms shared facility is top choice | CraigDailyPress.com

Despite potential complications ahead, police station committee reaffirms shared facility is top choice

Scott Franz

Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume, center left, and Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta talk to the police station committee in Steamboat Springs about the pros and cons of a shared public safety facility.

— The committee that is helping the city of Steamboat Springs build a new police station knows it probably won’t be a cake walk to construct a building in west Steamboat that would be shared by the Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

The design and funding decisions for the facility would have to be made by two different groups of elected officials instead of one.

And county officials are saying they believe the city’s needs for a new police facility are more pressing than the county’s need for an expanded sheriff’s office.

County Manager Tom Sullivan recently asked that any conceptual design for a shared facility allow the city to build first and the county to come in at a later date.

But on Monday, even as the police station committee heard more about the potential challenges and complications of a shared facility, it continued to tout the potential benefits of the concept and voted unanimously to officially declare it the best option for the city.

The committee believes if the facility can be designed cooperatively, save taxpayer dollars and promote interaction among the enforcement agencies, it will be a wiser choice than a standalone police station.

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“We were chosen because we’re not in the political realm,” police station committee member Steve Sehnert said. “We’re here to make the correct recommendation. This committee allows us to be insulated from those political considerations.”

Committee member Nancy Kramer said community members she talks to continue to be very supportive of the idea of the shared facility.

The committee’s formal vote on the recommendation came weeks after the group had already made it clear a shared facility was the top choice of most committee members.

Just prior to the vote Monday morning, the committee met with Bill Rangitsch, of Steamboat Architectural Associates, to look over what the architect called a pre-conceptual plan for the facility.

The plan ultimately allayed the fears of some committee members that there wouldn’t be enough space next to the existing Sheriff’s Office for a shared facility.

Rangitsch said the site could accommodate 30,000 square feet of additional public safety facilities.

His drawing showed a two-story building with 22,000 square feet of total space could be constructed adjacent to the existing Sheriff’s Office and connected to it by a 2,000-square-foot connector.

The remaining space at the site could accommodate an 8,880-square-foot building addition.

The site also can accommodate new parking spaces and a new secure parking and impound area.

The Steamboat Springs City Council tentatively plans to talk to Routt County commissioners about the idea of a shared facility at a joint meeting in August.

Council members suggested last week they would like to have the conversation sooner than that.

Plan B

The police station committee will spend its next meeting on July 13 discussing an alternative building recommendation in case elected officials do not move forward with a joint facility.

The alternative recommendation would be for a standalone police station.

Committee members have a number of building sites around the city to consider.

On Monday, they also agreed to reach out to Yampa Valley Medical Center CEO Frank May to see if the hospital would be willing to have any more discussions about the property at Pine Grove Road and Central Park Drive that is owned by the hospital.

The site was one of the city’s top choices for a police station until YVMC withdrew from the real estate talks in December.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

What the committee is recommending:

The committee has determined that maximum value would be realized with a shared facility with the Routt County Sheriff in west Steamboat, provided the following requirements are met:

• The facility is designed cooperatively between the county and city both at the staff and elected official levels.

• Shared facility is defined as a facility that promotes significant interaction between the agencies and enhances both police and sheriff operational efficiencies. The facility needs to be designed with interaction, communication and cooperation as a primary goal.

• Site of shared facility is large enough to accommodate existing and future needs of both the sheriff and police. This needs to be part of the plan and may require acquisition of additional land. The project should not be value engineered to the significant detriment of requirements one through three.

• The city should explore opportunities for a sub-station located in the mountain area to enhance operational efficiencies and response time. The need for a substation should be evaluated after two to five years of operation in the new facility.

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