Fire District buying land in county from Spanns for new safety campus

Still along Gothic Road near cemetery

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

With a contract signed this week to purchase more Spann Ranch property near the Crested Butte cemetery and just north of the town boundary, the Crested Butte Fire Protection District (CBFPD) is one step closer to having a place to build a new fire hall and search-and-rescue building. 

The CBFPD already owns 1.8 acres in that area along Gothic Road that is also adjacent to the new Slate River subdivision in Crested Butte. The district had planned to build a safety campus along with some affordable housing units on that 1.8 acres and 1.55 acres to be given to them by the town. But some disputes over building expectations led to the district rejecting the town property and searching for other locations to build their campus. It turns out it will probably be right next to the original planned location.

CBFPD CEO Sean Caffrey said the 7.3-acre property is split by the Slate River with about 4.2 acres on the west side of the river closer to Crested Butte. He said the transaction is scheduled to be closed December 9.

“The plan is to build a fire hall and search and rescue building on that site,” explained Caffrey. “We have some better options coming together to either purchase or build the housing at alternate sites that are more residential in nature and more economical to acquire.”

“We finally have a great full site, at the right location for our needs,” said Chris McCann, Chairman of the CBFPD Board of Directors.  

A redesign of the facilities will have to be done given the new configuration of the land. “We think we can keep most of our initial programming work but will need to adjust the building footprints and layout to match the new site,” Caffrey explained. “We did not get as far as construction documents last time so there will be no duplicate costs there. I also anticipate the scope and size may be reduced as construction pricing has changed dramatically since the summer of 2021 when we did the initial pricing. Regardless we have a fixed budget so we will adjust as needed to fit the funds available.”

Given all that, Caffrey said he did not yet have an estimate of the new costs involved. The two Spann Ranch land purchases will total $2.5 million. As for timing, Caffrey said the district is doing soils and survey work now. “We hope to work on the zoning process and design work through the winter. We are hopeful for site work in 2023 and vertical construction in earnest in 2024 and maybe 2025,” he said.

Caffery is talking to the Gunnison County planning department to see what sort of review and approval process will be needed. “We anticipate going through the land use change process and utilizing our location and extent authority as a public agency,” he said. 

When asked if there were wetlands concerns, Caffrey said the issue was floodplain. “I may not be using the terms correctly but there isn’t a wetlands concern as much as there is a floodplain issue along the Slate River that we will need to be mindful of,” he explained. “The county has a variety of regulations related to floodplain development and setbacks. As for water and sewer service, we will be inquiring with the Town of Crested Butte regarding sanitary sewer and domestic water. As these facilities will serve the Town of Crested Butte, we are expecting a cooperative conversation.”

There are plans to widen the Gothic Road bridge over the Slate River near the property and Caffrey said the district is talking to county public works “to make sure our efforts are coordinated. We have no plans to develop on the east side of the river.”

“We have always envisioned a major facility for this parcel,” said Ken Spann, who negotiated the transaction for the Spanns. “The CBFPD’s current Board of Directors and administration are an outstanding, committed group. We wish them every success in bringing online a needed keystone piece of infrastructure that will serve us all for many years to come.”

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