Mountain Rescue Aspen has a new building that should be completed early next year, and now it’s close to securing funds to make the new facility fully functional when it opens.
A special-project grant of $52,600 that will be matched by the state will assist in equipping the new facility with state-of-the-art electronics and communication equipment.
The Pitkin County commissioners OK’d the emergency resolution at their meeting Wednesday to accept the offer. The resolution is set for a public hearing at the Sept. 11 commissioners meeting.
The planned 13,900-square-foot building, located across from the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport on the former Planted Earth Home and Garden Center parcel, will serve as the new Mountain Rescue Aspen headquarters. The facility will allow the 50-member volunteer organization to move out of a cramped cabin they’ve occupied since 1965 on Main Street.
So far, ground has been broken, the property excavation is completed and the building foundation is in place.
The goal is to have the Mountain Rescue Aspen moving into the new building by spring of next year.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said the new building and equipment is long overdue and that having a dedicated space for Mountain Rescue Aspen was crucial.
“This is a necessary public function,” DiSalvo said. “This is a big step forward for our community. It shows we’re prepared. Now we’ll have an emergency operations center for whatever situation occurs.”
As sheriff, DiSalvo has legal responsibility for executing all search-and-rescue operations within his jurisdiction. He explained that in some past emergency circumstances, his team would be spread out and work was done wherever a space could be found.
“The new building is an area where everything can be funneled through,” DiSalvo said. “It’s going to be a great asset.”
The building is fully funded by donations and grants. The goal is to raise $5 million to pay for the land and building.
Jeff Edelson, a member of Mountain Rescue’s board of directors, said the special-project grant would allow the group to not only purchase new communication equipment, but also complete the building infrastructure.
“That grant money will really help us,” Edelson said. “We’re exhausting our fundraising efforts and still need more funds.”
Mountain Rescue Aspen and Pitkin County have a partnership in place for using the new facility. The county will help pay for some of the building utilities and Internet fees. In return, the county will be able to use the new facility when needed as a backup dispatch center.