Council discusses how to reduce costs for new downtown fire station

City of Steamboat Springs/Image Courtesy
The new fire station can be seen at the top center of the image, while the City Hall building is at the bottom left.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy Image

Construction costs have risen across the country, and the latest estimates for the new downtown Steamboat Springs fire station and city hall, tentatively planned for construction in spring 2023, came as a surprise.

During the Steamboat Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 19, council members were divided on how to manage the rising costs for the new downtown fire station.

The latest schematic design estimates that the downtown fire station will cost about $22 million, $5.87 million more than originally budgeted.

Deputy City Manager Tom Leeson said that with the help of Wember Inc., the city’s representative on the project, they performed value engineering, a process to identify ways to reduce costs and minimize any loss of functionality.

Lesson and Wember managed to save about $4.8 million on the design of the downtown firehouse, which would put the price at $17.3 million, or about 6% over budget.

Approximately $500,000 of those savings would come from eliminating one of the station’s four apparatus bays where fire trucks park. However, the removal of the fourth bay was the subject of debate among the members of the Municipal Council.

City staff recommended removing the fourth bay, saying three would likely be enough, as long as plans go forward to rebuild a Mountain Fire Station and a new fire station on the city’s west end with the Brown Ranch project. the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

However, some council members did not feel comfortable losing the functionality of the fourth appliance bay.

As an alternative, some council members considered removing some planned civic space from the campus design, which could free up more than $400,000.

“If it turns out it takes 10 years before we’re ready to do the work on the mountain station, are we okay with three bays on the new station?” Councilwoman Joella West asked.

Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli responded by saying that three apparatus bays would be enough for current operations. Ideally, Steamboat should have several smaller fire stations scattered around the city to optimize response times anyway, he explained.

An image of the design for the new downtown Steamboat Springs fire station, which includes four 75-foot appliance bays, which could be reduced to three as a cost-cutting measure.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy Image

But removing the fourth bay would also limit the extraction capabilities of fire trucks because multiple trucks would sometimes need to be parked in the same bay, Cerasoli said. He added that having just three bays would also limit the department’s ability to add new engines.

“If we had all kinds of money and there were no other obstacles in place and we had to get the firehouse we wanted no matter what, then yes, we would probably add a fourth bay,” Cerasoli said. “That is not the situation we are facing.”

Cerasoli said he believes in the project and civic space, and would support whatever direction the council decides to take. The civic space has been described as a “ribbon of space” and would function as an open walkway and gathering place for pedestrians.

A “space ribbon” would provide an open walkway and gathering space for pedestrians around the new Steamboat Civic Campus, which would include a new fire station and city hall.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy Photo

“I love civic space,” said Councilmember Dakotah McGinlay. “But I also agree that the main goal of this project was a new fire station and city hall, and the civic space was a nice addition.”

Councilman Michael Buccino was curious about how much abandoning civic space could actually save, compared to building regular streets and sidewalks instead.

Although no official decision was made, Councilmembers Robin Crossan, Gail Garey and Buccino supported the staff recommendation to remove fourth bay and keep civic space, while Heather Sloop, Ed Briones, West and McGinlay said they were open to keeping the fourth bay. even if that means abandoning civic space.

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