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The county has signed a purchase contract for the site of Salida Auto Sales to become the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office.

A special meeting of the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC)  called for 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 23 featured a surprise announcement. The BoCC ratified the purchase contract of $2.3 million for property located at 7420 U.S. 50 in Salida. The location will be the new home of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office.

The property is the long-time home of Salida Auto Sales and local secondhand car buyers will be sad to learn that the long-time business is closing. The contract was negotiated with DHJ Limited Liability Partnership (led by Sam Johnson), with Broker Jeff Post handling the sale.

The purchase helps the county solve a perplexing need. The Sheriff’s Office urgently needs more space, but the county has frustrating space limitations on the current county administration campus at 104 Crestone Avenue.

“We learned that Salida Auto Sales was closing and selling their property. Knowing our space constraints, we knew it might not be possible to build on this campus,” explained County Administrator Don Reimer.

“We thought that purchasing the property would solve space constraints going forward,” he added. “It’s a great location for the Sheriff’s Department with enough space going forward for the next 50 years. We put in an offer and we got a contract on that.”

“The board gave direction to pursue this,” explained County Attorney Daniel Tom. “This was done outside the public eye and we needed to move quickly. We had to purchase it within certain price parameters and the county had about 48 hours to act.”

He explained that the property already has a secure parking lot for vehicles and significant secure space both for evidence and records — all in one location.

“My concern was to stay on the campus,” said Sheriff John Spezze. “So when they came to me, and said it’s a great location, great public view, it has room to give us what we need not just now but in the future — I thought this can be the sheriff’s office for a long, long time. It puts us in a facility that meets our needs. We appreciate it … from what we were looking to build here [on the Crestone campus], it saves us money.”

“We can put all our records and evidence in one place here,” added Spezze. “We need evidence and records storage. Look at what we’re getting … it’s a good opportunity.”

“Thanks to past commissioners, to staff, and Dan Short, this has put the county in a position that we can jump on an opportunity like this,” said Commissioner P.T. Wood. “We don’t have to hesitate … that’s thanks to good long-term planning by staff for the community.”.

“It’s good to take advantage of the opportunity and we can,” said Commissioner Keith Baker.

“As long as it meets a level 1 environmental assessment, I’m supportive and enthusiastic. I think it’s a good move,” said Commissioner Greg Felt.

Wood made the motion to ratify the purchase contract, Felt seconded it and it passed unanimously.

Based on the timelines of the purchase contract, the county will close and take possession of 7420 U.S. 50 on September 28, 2023.

The BoCC moved on into an executive session, from which they indicated no public actions would result.

Featured image: Salida Auto Sales, 7420 W US Highway 50 soon to be home of Chaffee County Sheriffs. Courtesy photo