Citing lack of space for evidence processing, interviews, meetings and waiting areas, the Aspen Police Department is asking to relocate some of its operations into a 1,222-square-foot space at nearby Obermeyer Place. The cost of the move, including a three-year lease, totals more than $200,000.
According to a memorandum from city staff to the Aspen City Council — which will offer input on the move Monday during a work session — a recent visit to the Police Department determined it is not meeting the needs of customers, victims, witnesses and suspects.
The department shares portions of its Main Street space with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. As part of the city’s Municipal Facilities Master Plan, the Police Department is expected to vacate the space within five years. But the memo states that there are immediate needs that the council should address.
Three months ago, following the murder of Nancy Pfister — which was in the Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction — the department conducted “a brief tabletop to simulate a major case investigation within the city of Aspen,” according to the memo.
“It confirmed, immediately, the complete lack of operational space resources to deal with the operations and management of any major investigation or incident,” the memo states.
Among the issues listed are witnesses sitting through interviews in a public hallway with pedestrians walking by, a victim “crying in the same public hallway” waiting for officers, employees forced to vacate office space to allow for private interviews, and portions of the office locked off to make room for evidence.
The council has been presented with two options for the move: the service-commercial-industrial-zoned space at Obermeyer or temporary trailers at the nearby Zupancis parking lot. The Obermeyer space is estimated at $218,500, while the trailers are expected to cost $234,000.
Because the space — located at 101 Founders Place, Suite 104, Obermeyer Place — is zoned service-commercial-industrial, it would require a temporary land-use application to be reviewed by the council. The council may grant the temporary use for three years, with annual check-ins to extend the use thereafter, the memo states.
City staff has recommended the Obermeyer option.