Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District relocating to Rodeo Lot this spring for 18 months |

Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District relocating to Rodeo Lot this spring for 18 months

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
A rendering of the Snowmass interim fire facility at the entryway to the village along Brush Creek Road.
Charles Cunniffe Architects/Courtesy rendering |

It’s official: The Rodeo Lot will house the Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District for a year and a half, beginning sometime this spring, as its new station is constructed.

During a “short and sweet” discussion, as described by Mayor Markey Butler, at a Town Council meeting Monday, the council gave the fire district the green light to relocate to the Rodeo Grounds for the 18 month interim.

All four council members present at the meeting motioned to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the town of Snowmass and the fire district.

In this arrangement, the memorandum is essentially a lease between the fire district and the town, which owns the Rodeo Lot, permitting the district to temporarily operate on the property, Snowmass Town Manager Clint Kinney said.

The parcel serves as a parking lot for the Snowmass Rodeo contestants each week during the summer and offers additional day skier parking spaces throughout the winter.

Consequently, the fire district has engaged in “almost weekly conversations” with the organizers of the rodeo, Snowmass Western Heritage Association and Aspen Skiing Co. to reach agreeable terms and minimize the station’s impact on its uses, Fire Marshal John Mele told the Snowmass Sun on Feb 3.

Of the Rodeo Lot’s approximate 108,000-square-foot area, the temporary fire station will occupy about one-tenth of the lot, or 10,000-square-feet, according to Tom Newland, a Basalt-based consultant for the project.

At Monday’s meeting, Town Councilman Bob Sirkus commended the fire protection district for its diligence in working with the other groups to address any concerns about the shared use.

“I hope that sets the stage for a very cooperative relationship between the two groups,” he said, noting that the town may serve as mediator as needed.

The mayor echoed Sirkus’ praise and said she “really appreciates the cooperation.”

“Working together is the only way you can solve a temporary problem,” Butler said.

In an interview with the Sun last week, Mele said, “All of us are committed to make sure the community feels good about the move.”

“We’ve been planning this type of a situation for a long time,” he said.

While the fire district admits the Rodeo Lot is not a “perfect” location, upon evaluating about 10 sites in the village, they determined it to be the best, “most cost-effective” solution, Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection Fire Chief Scott Thompson said.

The cost-savings is in part due to the Rodeo Lot’s relatively flat grounds and close proximity to water and sanitary sewer lines, which means lower installation costs for the interim facility, Thompson explained to the Town Council and planning commission at a joint meeting Dec. 19.

One downside to the interim site, however, is the added distance from the heart of town, as Snowmass Town Councilman Tom Goode, who was absent Monday, identified at the previous meeting as a concern.

When asked last week how the temporary location might impact the fire station’s response time, Mele said, “I think there is, just because of logistics, a little delay.”

“To be perfectly open about it, you have to realize that now we’re on Owl Creek Road and the temporary facility will be at the bottom of the village towards the rec center,” he said.

The Snowmass fire marshal, a member of the fire district for more than 30 years, estimated the interim site would delay its response by about 30 to 45 seconds.

“As a full-time, paid department, our (first responders) are always ready,” Mele said. “I think this makes up time for a delayed response.”

The temporary fire facility also will be a transition for the first responders, Mele pointed out, “going from a station where they live and sleep in a real building to going down to trailers and a facility that’s a little different.”

The interim facility will consist of a 4,200-square-foot tent and three modular mobile structures: one two-bedroom trailer and one three-bedroom trailer, both of which will house a kitchen and living room, and one small trailer that will serve as a shared office space for staff, Thompson told the Snowmass Sun after the meeting Monday.

Five apparatuses also will live at the Rodeo Lot: three ambulances, a fire engine and a “ladder truck.”

The Snowmass fire protection district intends to demolish its current station at 5275 Owl Creek Road around April 1.