Avon joint public safety facility passes voters
Eagle River Fire Protection District
Town of Avon Police
AVON — Voters on Tuesday approved moving both the police and fire stations in town to a combined facility on Buck Creek Road.
It is a complicated deal that started last spring with a land swap and culminated Tuesday with separate voter approval on both the police and fire plans. The Eagle River Fire Protection District received 1,744 votes in favor, 1,296 opposed; while the town of Avon police received 457 votes in favor and 217 opposed, according to unofficial results issued Tuesday evening.
“There were an incredible number of moving parts,” Fire Chief Karl Bauer said of the deal, known as the joint public safety facility plan. “But I think people saw what is at the end of all those parts — a more comprehensive fire protection and emergency response service than we’ve ever seen.”
The Eagle River Fire Protection District — which oversees Edwards, Eagle-Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff, in addition to Avon — asked for $25 million to come from a tax increase on property owners in the district, presenting a plan of their own that will see to the construction of the fire department’s portion of the joint public safety facility, along with improvements to the Edwards fire station and the implementation of a new training ground in Minturn.
“What keeps me up at night is the question of whether or not we are able to provide a level of service that meets the needs of the community,” said Bauer. “There were some impediments that were providing some sleepless nights, but that all pales at this point because we know that we’re moving forward to solve those needs.”
LAND SWAP GETS THINGS STARTED
The plan began with the fire district swapping a parcel of land they owned for an adjacent lot where Buck Creek Road meets Nottingham Road in Avon, leading to the construction of a medical building on the land formerly owned by the fire district. The lot the fire district was left with, formerly owned by Oscar Tang, who negotiated the deal with the party responsible for the medical building, was ideally suited for the construction of a new emergency services facility, something Avon Town Manager Virginia Egger noticed could serve both police and fire.
“We’re going to do something really, really great for the town at that new parcel,” Egger said. “It’s exciting.”
With voters answering the question of where to put the Avon Police Department on Tuesday, it also completes the Town Council’s plan of how to deal with a failing Town Hall facility, Egger said. The town has began the process of relocating Town Hall to the Mountain Vista Office Building on Mikaela Way; Tuesday’s election will also clear out police and fire from the area for new possibilities in the town core and nearby Nottingham Park. The plan encountered a major hurdle last year when the Town Hall relocation was shot down by voters in a referendum, but a new plan that was worked into the town budget for this year revived the idea at less than half of the original purchase price and was not subject to referendum.
“Not only did it work out, it worked out better,” Egger said.
Bauer cited the work of the fire district board and staff in presenting their end of the plan properly to voters.
“The fire board not only had the vision but the courage to move forward on admittedly a large request,” he said. “They put together the pieces that made this all successful to the voters.”
For fire district board members Clark Shivley and Jennifer Cantrell Hays, the passage of the tax is a swan song at the end of eight years on the board. Shivley was replaced by Clint Janssen in the District Director 3 seat, and Cindy Moran will replace Hays in the District Director 5 seat.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Hays said. “Tremendously excited.”