Police station committee weighs pros and cons of shared facility | CraigDailyPress.com

Police station committee weighs pros and cons of shared facility

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.
Scott Franz

— The committee that is helping the city of Steamboat Springs build a new police station is ready to start making some decisions.

On May 18, the group will make a big one when it decides whether or not to recommend the construction of a shared public safety facility on the west end of town.

It also will consider the idea of a remodel or repurposing of the city’s current police station on Yampa Street.

If the committee passes on those options, it will start looking at other possibilities.

“I think it’s time for this committee, in my personal opinion, to start talking about what the recommendation is,” committee chairman John Kerst said at Monday’s police station committee meeting.

The citizens committee has been busy in recent weeks pouring over space needs studies and getting information from city staff about the planning that’s already been done for the station.

The Steamboat Springs City Council wants a recommendation for a new police station by August.

At its most recent meetings, police station committee members have largely focused on the prospect of the Routt County Sheriff’s Office and the Steamboat Springs Police Department sharing a new facility next to the Routt County Jail.

On Monday, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and the leaders of Steamboat’s police force were on hand to talk about the pros and cons of such an arrangement.

Both local law enforcement agencies see the creation of a one-stop shop and the potential cost savings as benefits. They also believe the arrangement could create a better working relationship between the two offices.

However, the leaders of the Steamboat Springs Police Department don’t believe the west side of town is the most optimal location for a police station for a number of reasons.

They have pointed out the west side location is outside the area where 85 percent of the calls for service originate and being west of 13th Street could increase the police administration’s response time to a serious emergency like an active shooter at a local school.

Police Captain Jerry Stabile also said a move to the west could create the need for a satellite police office east of Hilltop Parkway to continue the quality of service on that busy end of town.

Some police station committee members appeared split over how the station’s location on the west end of town would impact operations.

Committee member Judy Tremaine said if all of the law enforcement officers were working on the same end of town and something, including traffic backups, prevented them from getting to another portion of the city during an emergency, “this is going to paralyze us.”

On the other hand, committee member Charlie MacArthur urged the committee not to “get caught up on this location issue.”

“I think it’s important we keep in perspective that it’s a pretty small town,” he said. “We’re kind of treating it like we’re pushing the police station out to Hahn’s Peak, and that’s not the case. We’re a pretty small town, and I think it’s important to keep that in perspective.”

There is also the issue of space.

The available building footprint next to the Routt County Jail is 15,000 square feet with the option to go vertical for more space.

Some committee members wondered whether the construction of a shared facility on this footprint would leave enough room for future expansion.

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

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