STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Leaders in Steamboat Springs are deciding whether to tear down an old motel and build a new police headquarters in its place.

The police chief says a new building is badly needed, but it’s an idea not everyone supports.

The city bought the property five years ago before the recession when affordable housing was practically non-existent. The residents feel like they don’t have a say, and they’re being kicked out for the benefit of one of the area’s largest companies.

“We have some aging buildings there that are in need of repair; that will continue to need more repairs as time goes on,” said Deb Hinsvark, Deputy City Manager.

The decision will be made to see if the old Iron Horse Inn should be razed on Tuesday night.

“They’re efficiency apartments,” one resident said. “Affordable housing.”

“We’re a city, we don’t really want to run a hotel at this point,” Hinsvark said. “It’s not for our purpose any longer.”

The city wants to move the police department from its current cramped facility where some officers are forced to use a supply closet for office space. And it would get emergency crews taken off of pedestrian friendly Yampa Avenue.

“It is busy with people, which does not make the ideal situation to have an emergency vehicle responding to an emergency call for service going through that conglomeration of people,” Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae said.

The new building would cost $7 million, cheaper than retrofitting the old motel. And Big Agnes, an outdoor retailer and one of the larger businesses headquartered in Steamboat Springs, would buy the old police station for $2 million.

Some in town say the financials don’t add up, but the city says the other funds would come from reserves.

“We’re carrying the debt from the hotel regardless of what’s there; whether it’s a hotel that we’re operating and barely breaking even and costing us money every year in maintenance, or whether it’s blank ground.” Hinsvark said.

But residents at the Iron Horse Inn say they’re being left without any other affordable living option.

“There are quite a few families here and it’s going to put some stress on everyone,” the resident said.

If the measure passes it’ll still be some time before construction crews start work. But Rae said his staff would be out of the old station within the next nine months so Big Agnes could move in. That company’s co-founder said if they can’t get the office space from the town, they’ll likely have to move the entire company out of Steamboat Springs.


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