Avon police, area fire district celebrate opening of new public safety facility | VailDaily.com

Avon police, area fire district celebrate opening of new public safety facility

AVON — The new public safety center in Avon is home to the Avon Police Department and the Avon station of the Eagle River Fire Protection District. But those speaking at the Thursday, Oct. 19, grand opening stressed that the new center is more than just a building.

On the outside of the building — as with all fire stations in Colorado — there's a sign noting that the department is a "safe haven," a place where a troubled mother can leave a newborn with no legal consequences.

Along with other officials, Eagle River Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Clint Janssen thanked district voters, who in 2016 approved a fire district bond issue and a town question asking for permission to fund the facility. Town officials were thanked, as were architects and builders during his remarks to the grand opening audience.

But Janssen also spoke at length about safe havens during his remarks to the audience at the opening ceremony. He told the audience the story of a baby — in another state — hours old, found in a garage and turned over to local authorities.

Janssen told the story of the baby as if it were ripped from today's headlines and then admitted he'd stretched the truth a bit. The story was actually nearly 50 years old.

The baby was adopted, grew up, and is Clint Janssen.

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The audience got very quiet.

"We have a safe haven here," Janssen said, adding that the new center will be dedicated to firefighters, police officers and babies.

Better location

Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Karl Bauer said he hopes the new station can help extend the idea of a safe haven out into the community.

Before the ceremony, Bauer said firefighters have been moved into the station for the past couple of weeks. In that short time, firefighters called out to emergencies have proven the idea behind the new public safety center — better access to the entire community.

The former fire station, near the Avon Town Hall, was old and cramped, and response times were often hindered by pedestrians and traffic in the area.

The new station is close to Interstate 70, with little in the way of pedestrian traffic. Firefighters can use a pole or a slide to zip downstairs from the on-duty living quarters into the equipment bays, grab their gear and be on their way.

Built for the future

The building is also built for the future — at least 50 years into the future. Bauer said the station is currently occupied at all times by a four-person crew. But the facility was built to handle two crews, something that will be essential in the future.

For now, the district's administrative offices remain in the Slifer Plaza building in Avon. Bauer said those offices will move to Edwards when the district opens its replacement for the 1980s-vintage station there. That project is expected to be finished in a year or so, Bauer said.

The new facility was a joint effort between the town and the fire district. The fire district's portion cost about $9.5 million, funded by a voter-approved bond issue. The town contributed $6.5 million for the police station, funded by voter-approved "certificates of participation."

The idea of a joint facility was hatched over a few coffee-shop meetings between Bauer and former Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer. Ticer had also been looking for new offices for that department, which, for the next few weeks, operates out of its current cramped space on the lowest floor of Avon Town Hall.

In his remarks, current Avon Police Chief Greg Daly thanked Ticer and Bauer, as well as the rest of the community. Daly also stressed that the new facility is a safe haven for the community.

"This is your house," Daly said.

After the ceremonial hose-uncoupling, the group of local cops and firefighters, as well as representatives of other agencies and members of the public, went around to the north side of the building for a traditional ribbon cutting.

When that was finished, a pair of calls from the dispatch center in Vail came in, the first dispatch calls from the new station.

Welcoming the firefighters, the dispatcher said, "May you always be ready to serve."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.

By the numbers

26,700: Square footage of the new public safety facility in Avon.

2: Agencies use the building: the Eagle River Fire Protection District and Avon Police Department.

$9.5 million: The fire district’s share of the facility.

$6.5 million: The town of Avon’s share for the police department.

Sources: Eagle River Fire Protection District, Vail Daily archives