“It was dramatically higher”
A proposed expansion of the fire station in Mt. Crested Butte will not be moving forward as anticipated this summer, due to steep construction expenses. District officials say there will not be any effect to fire response capabilities, but without the expansion storing vehicles and fire equipment will be a little more challenging.
The Fire District originally proposed building a 3,500-square-foot, single-story addition to the existing fire hall, located on Gothic Road near the Ski Jump condos and Paradise Road. In May 2007 the town of Mt. Crested Butte approved an extension of the Fire District’s conditional use permit, allowing the fire hall to expand into an area of the town zoned for low-density multi-family uses. This expansion would have been located in the parking lot directly behind the Mt. Crested Butte Fire Hall.
During a Town Council meeting on July 1, town manager Joe Fitzpatrick announced that the District would not be moving forward with the expansion this summer.
Fire District manager Mike Miller says the decision was made due to a tight budget, and construction bids that came in over expectations. “It was dramatically higher than what we had hoped for… We were hoping for $800,000 to $1 million (for design and construction expenses). It came down to $1.4 million,” Miller says.
The expansion proposal comes as the result of a 2001 intergovernmental agreement between the town and The Reserve Metro District, a special entity with oversight of Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) development of the East Trade Parcel, what is now known as Prospect. The agreement stipulated that CBMR would provide funding for a new fire engine, and would either set aside a portion of land for a future fire hall on the north side of town or provide funding assistance for an expansion at the current facility.
Fire District board president Reed Meredith says the board decided that it did not make sense to have two fire stations a mile apart with only a handful of firefighting volunteers living in Mt. Crested Butte, so the board chose to pursue an expansion of the current facility.
CBMR planning director John Sale says the expansion conditions are triggered by a set amount of lot sales in Prospect, which was achieved last winter. He says at that time CBMR made its payment for the fire engine, and he anticipates that the payment for a fire hall expansion will be made sometime this summer or fall.
Since the bays at all three of the District’s fire halls were full before the new fire truck arrived this spring, an older fire engine was moved out and is now being parked at the county maintenance facility just south of town according to Fire District board member Hank Smith.
“It’s pretty much just going to be a reserve engine anyway,” Miller says. He says the expansion, “has no impact whatsoever on our response capability or fire protection.”
Smith says the board is looking at some other options for storing fire trucks in the short term, which might including acquiring an existing garage in Crested Butte. “At some point we need more space. Perhaps not as much as we envisioned… We do have equipment to house, and right now the county is being very gracious.”
Meredith says the board will probably re-examine an expansion proposal over the next few years. “We will at some point be expanding the Mt. Crested Butte station, or building another station elsewhere. Those equipment needs are not going to go away.”