Abandoned RFTA building in Glenwood a problem for police | AspenTimes.com

Abandoned RFTA building in Glenwood a problem for police

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Glenwood Springs Police arrested five men for trespassing at an abandoned warehouse building in Glenwood Springs in September.

According to Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson, Lowell Haag, 52, Nick Petmezas, 52, and David Adolphson, 50, were arrested on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and theft of services – for illegally pirating electricity from a city power pole.

Wilson said that the three had set up residence in the abandoned warehouse, which happens to be located across the street from the police station. And it appeared that they had been living in the facility for “some time.”

“Just from the amount of garbage and the amount of waste in the building, and several [officers] that went into the place said that from the inside, it looked like they had been in there for quite a while,” Wilson said.

According to a memo from Mike Hermes, director of property and trails for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which owns the building, someone had illegally tapped in to a power pole to provide electricity to the building.

The three were initially arrested on Sept. 18, Wilson said, after an administrator at the nearby Glenwood Springs Elementary School reported to authorities that Adolphson was spotted asking school children if they wanted to play with his dog.

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Police responded to the call and witnessed Adolphson running from the area. They eventually caught up to him at the abandoned building, and Adolphson said that he had put his dog inside. When police asked what he was doing at the building, Adolphson told them that he kept his bicycle there. That is when police became suspicious.

“We took him into custody at that point,” Wilson said.

Police found Adolphson in possession of two knives and charged him with possession of a concealed weapon as well.

Police then entered the building where they found Haag and Petmezas sleeping, Wilson said.

The three were arrested for trespassing and bonded out of jail the next day, Wilson said.

But the story does not end there.

Wilson said that Petmezas and Adolphson were again arrested on Sept. 23, at the same location, once again for trespassing. The two men appeared in court on Sept. 29, and were ordered to clean up the facility, according to Hermes’ memo.

On Sept. 26, while Petmezas and Adolphson were in jail, a RFTA employee was securing the building on Sept. 26, when two other men kicked their way out of the building. The RFTA employee contacted police and the Mike Casto, 48, and Justin Schaff, 26 were also arrested for trespassing at the site. Those two men have yet to appear in court.

According to Wilson, Casto and Schaff told police that they were looking for Petmezas. Wilson said that police have been dealing with transients at the abandoned building for at least the past year.

“We’ve been there a lot of times in the past year,” Wilson said. “And it’s getting old.”

Police notified RFTA staff after they had arrested the first group of men trespassing at the facility. The building has been in disrepair for years, according to Hermes’ memo, and RFTA staff has secured the building with plywood, locks and chains in an attempt to keep people out. However, Hermes said, because of the building’s poor condition, “someone determined to enter the building could, and did, find a way in.”

Hermes said in his memo that the building has become an “attractive nuisance” and is in such poor condition that the only prudent course of action would be to demolish it and fill in the basement. He said that RFTA is currently investigating the requirements of demolition and is soliciting proposals to tear the building down.

jgardner@postindependent.com