New police station, town hall top priorities for Breckenridge |

New police station, town hall top priorities for Breckenridge

BRECKENRIDGE – Heide Andersen knows all too well about the crowded conditions in Breckenridge Town Hall.

Andersen, the town’s open space and trails director, recently moved into a new office that is less than 100 square feet – and she shares it with assistant Danica Rice. But it’s better than her old office, which had been converted from a storage area.

So it came as no surprise to her and many other town employees when consultant Nick Kollios said that, based upon the town’s anticipated growth in year-round, second-homeowner and visitor populations, they’ll need a new town hall and police station, 53 more acres for parks and recreation and hundreds of affordable housing units by 2020.

It won’t be cheap, and it won’t be easy, Kollios told the town council Tuesday night. The Boulder-based consultant and Jeff Grote of San Francisco were hired by the town to evaluate the facilities master plan, which accounts for all the town-owned properties, how they are being used and what their future needs might be.

Tuesday, the consultants outlined a list of alternatives the town could consider to give its employees more elbow room, accommodate future recreation needs and provide affordable housing for workers.

The biggest challenge, the council agreed, is with the current town hall and police department. According to Kollios, the town hall offers 187 useable square feet per person, compared to 275 to 300 square feet as an industry ideal.

Conditions are worse in the police department, where officers have about 90 square feet apiece to do their jobs. In big-city field offices, he said, the average is 165 square feet, and in a full-service department such as Breckenridge’s, the average is 250 to 275 square feet.

“The key is developing a new police facility,” he said. “Any significant renovation of this building may prove difficult and expensive for what you’ll get.”

Kollios outlined four viable alternatives for improving the situation, most of which involved building a new police department elsewhere and renovating the town hall for administrative functions. Costs ranged from $5.7 million to $6.8 million.

He noted that the Schoonover building east of the Blue River on Ski Hill Road could work as an interim police office, but even that lot is too small for the police department in the long term.

There are numerous challenges, as well, because citizens in town meetings have stated resoundingly they want the police and town departments to remain in the town core – and there is little vacant land in the town core on which a new structure could be built.

Kollios suggested town officials consider selling the current town hall site, but Town Manager Tim Gagen reminded council members that they mortgaged the building to buy a large parcel of open space on Peak 8 two years ago. Additionally, the only money the town has set aside for large capital improvements is to replace the Riverwalk Center’s tent and to enclose the outdoor ice rink. Even those aren’t front-burner items, Gagen said.

Play time

The town also needs to keep up with the recreational demands of the growing population, Grote said. According to his statistics, Breckenridge only has a deficit of 2.5 acres for its recreational needs, but that could grow to as much as 53 acres by 2020.

“We plugged in a lot of assumptions and forecasts, and they need to be tracked and monitored over the years,” Kollios said. “It’s hard enough for a city in a non-resort community to keep track. Here, it’s a very dynamic and complex situation.”

Ideas he offered the council included adding onto the west end of the recreation center, moving its parking lot to the northwest corner of the property and relocating Kingdom Park Trailer Park to make way for an additional ball field.

The ice arena complex along Boreas Pass likely will need to be expanded and improved upon, Grote said, including implementation of a winter sports center with an outdoor skating rink and, possibly, affordable housing.

Other ideas include expanding the equestrian center, creating a teen or family fun center and possibly even a bowling alley, community meeting center, arts and crafts center and movie theater.

The town, Grote noted, has already forged ahead with creating a theater and arts district by renovating Shamus O’Toole’s saloon into a theater and staging area for other nonprofits.

Other improvements the town might consider implementing include enlarging the public works department – particularly the vehicle bays – and redesigning the office for better efficiency. Kollios said the town can fit everything it has on site, except snowstacking and storage, which he suggested staging at the McCain parcel north of town or near the Stillson Placer parcel on Wellington Road.

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