Fire fighters and police officers begin move into joint location in Avon
AVON — Both the police and fire stations in town are about to be vacated, but officials are hoping they don’t stay that way for long.
The certificates of occupancy have been issued to the Eagle River Fire Protection District and the Avon Police Department to move into their new joint-safety facility on Buck Creek Road. In an effort to create a centralized space for police, fire and emergency medical services, the fire and police station was planned for the lot next to the Buck Creek Medical Plaza, which brought 24-hour urgent care to the area in 2016. The Buck Creek area will realize its full potential as a center for safety in the coming months, as police and fire make their transitions to the new facility, which cost approximately $11 million for the fire station and $6.5 million for the police.
“I think there was an expectation it was going to be a little bit later, but everything has been going well with the construction,” said Avon Police Chief Greg Daly. “So we’ll be moved in by the second week of October, well before the tourist season.”
Daly said the new facility will help the department better realize its goals with community outreach. On Monday, Sept. 17, the Avon Police Department wrapped up its 2017 Latino Police Academy, a seven-week program Avon hosts with help from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Police Department and Eagle Police Department.
“It was awesome to have those members of our community there and to continue to build those relationships with that area of the community, especially at the moment with all the political rhetoric and political threats,” Daly said. “It’s really the beginning of a friendship going forward.”
Moving forward, the larger community space available at the new Avon Police Department will help with classes like that one.
“Sept. 25, we begin our English-speaking police academy. It will start in the old space, but I’m hoping the later half of the academy will be in the new space,” Daly said. “Maybe if I ask them nicely they’ll help us move.”
The Eagle River Fire Protection District began moving its various apparatuses and equipment from the old building into the new one this week.
The new building will be able to house the fire district’s ladder truck and meet all staffing, equipment, storage and operational needs for the next 50 years and beyond by providing quick access to Avon town core, Wildridge and Mountain Star neighborhoods, Wal-Mart and any new development at Traer Creek.
OLD SPACE MADE ANEW
As far as the former fire station’s future is concerned, what cause response problems at the old location could become part of its appeal for whoever occupies it next.
“The (current) Avon Fire Station is located in a place that’s becoming increasingly dangerous to the public and to firefighters,” Fire Chief Karl Bauer said. “We’ve got a preschool, we’ve got hotels, we’ve got a transportation hub, we’ve got a gondola — all of these things are making it unsafe as a primary route of response.”
At a meeting in Avon on Monday, council members and staff expressed a desire to turn the building over quickly and take advantage of the housing opportunities it provides. As of last week, the building was housing five firefighters, but that number could be more than doubled with a little bit of work, said town planning director Matt Pielsticker.
About two months of work and $60,000 and the building could be housing people, town manager Virginia Egger confirmed, adding that Jan. 1 could be a reasonable date to expect people to be able to move into the facility.
“That’s an internal schedule planning notion,” Egger said. “Nothing solid but a date to shoot for.”
Enlisting the help of a nonprofit developer called Artspace, the town and members of the community explored options for the new building. Artspace specializes in live/work and adaptive reuse of buildings for the arts, and representatives in town this week said the town first needs to solidify the concept for the building before examining how to put it to use.
“It’s pretty clear that there’s a hunger for space for the creative sector in Avon,” said Anna Growcott, with Artspace.
As far as the police station is concerned, the Vail Valley Art Guild plans to occupy the building as soon as the police are gone. At the Monday meeting in Avon, Arts Guild representatives said they were already planning events for the new space, including an “In the Jailhouse Now,” art exhibit on Dec. 1.
“It will be our annual inexpensive local arts sale,” said Joanne Carhart Levy, with the Arts Guild.