Bridge Shelter given 30-day notice to leave Justice Building

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:05 PM
The entrance to the Bridge Emergency Shelter in the old Montezuma County Justice Building.

The Bridge Emergency Shelter has been ordered to move out of the old Montezuma County Justice Building within a month.

The shelter received a 30-day notice on Tuesday to vacate the Bridge’s current location, shelter director Laurie Knutson said. At the board of commissioners meeting the previous day, she had asked for clarity on when the shelter would have to leave the building, which is set to be purchased by the Children’s Kiva Montessori School. The Bridge is still looking for a temporary home while its new location is under construction.

“We don’t know exactly where we will go,” Knutson said. “We will set up a temporary administrative office in my house and start looking for a temporary home for the Day Labor Center.”

She said finding a place for the Day Labor Center, the only part of the Bridge that operates year-round, is her most immediate concern, since it needs to open to the public on May 1. But finding a temporary location for the shelter, which hosts 43 people per night on average, may be more difficult. Knutson said she is looking for any building that can hold about 50 people, including staff and volunteers. Ideally, she said, the location would have more than one bathroom and more than one sleeping area, but shelter staff will likely have to make do with whatever is available.

“We’re going to do what we need to do for the few months we’re there,” she said.

Although the commissioners said on Monday the sale of the justice building hadn’t closed yet, Kiva staff have said they plan to purchase it and move in by the beginning of the school year in August. On April 3 the Cortez Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit that will allow the school to use the building. The permit will likely go before City Council for a final vote on April 24.

The Bridge plans to break ground on its new building this summer, but Knutson said it will take about eight months to finish, and there’s no way to speed up construction without compromising the building’s safety.

She said the shelter’s board of directors plans to hold a public meeting in the near future to find solutions to the building problem. The board of commissioners has offered to let the group use its meeting room for the event, Knutson said, but the date has not been determined yet.