Vail Daily column: Vote ‘yes’ for joint public safety facility
A few years ago, Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Karl Bauer and I met over a cup of coffee to discuss current and future needs of both the Avon Police Department and the fire district. The conversation quickly turned to how we can most professionally serve our communities, with the primary goal of ensuring a safe environment for the public. We both recognized that each of our agencies respond together to many emergencies such as medical calls, fire calls, traffic collisions, as well as major community events including the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and the annual Salute to the USA.
Our valley is set for growth, and as your public safety leaders, Chief Bauer and I are charged with the protection of our community today and into the future. Both the Avon Police Department in Town Hall and the Eagle River Fire Protection District’s Avon Station are antiquated and cramped. These stations were designed decades ago for minimal staff. The buildings have served the community well, but are unable to meet our needs today, let alone in the future. Secondly, each facility is constrained by its location in the core of Avon, which is no longer strategically viable due to pedestrian and traffic congestion.
Understanding the need to upgrade or build new facilities, chief Bauer and I turned to the concept of building a joint public safety building that could house both the Fire District and the Police Department. This would create an economy of scale that could reduce costs associated with building two buildings on two separate lots. Additionally, a joint public safety building would provide opportunities for firefighters to train together with police officers, as well as serve as Unified Incident Command during planned events and unplanned emergencies.
As Chief Bauer and I continued to discuss this partnership, we began to focus on where to build a joint facility that could best serve the community. The most viable solution was to develop the building at the intersection of Nottingham and Swift Gulch roads in Avon. This location provides quick access to major roads used when emergencies arise. With headquarters at this location, officers and firefighters will have faster response times to Wildridge, Mountain Star, Buffalo Ridge, Interstate 70, Traer Creek (Wal-Mart and Home Depot) and Avon’s commercial core and central neighborhoods. Firefighters and police officers would no longer have to navigate through congested areas around Lake Street or Benchmark Road or around major special events at the Town Park. Shaving minutes off of response times means reduced property loss and additional lives saved during emergencies.
After that initial meeting, Chief Bauer and I presented our concept to the district and town leaders. For more than a year now, our agencies have been working diligently, in partnership, on the design of this joint public safety facility, planning for current staffing, as well as what is expected to be needed to accommodate for future growth in our community. If this project comes to fruition, then the building will be constructed as a 50-plus year facility, allowing for growth of staff and equipment.
On May 3, as voters, you will have the opportunity to vote for this project to move forward through two ballot questions. The town of Avon is requesting no new taxes or tax rate increases for the new police station and the Eagle River Fire Protection District is seeking a moderate temporary mill levy increase dedicated to building fire district facilities. Voting will be by mail-in ballot only.
I am proud to serve in a community where our police department and fire district have such a solid strong foundation and partnership and for the opportunity to build a safer tomorrow for you. I ask for you to vote “yes” on May 3.
Robert Ticer is chief of the Avon Police Department,
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