Aspen City Council approves $7.6M project at Galena Plaza
The Aspen Times
The Aspen City Council signed off Monday on a $7.6 million redevelopment project at Galena Plaza that will see the area closed for at least six months starting in April.
The city has been discussing a major replacement project for the plaza since 1998, with a leaking roof at Rio Grande Parking Garage noted as a major issue. Along with that much needed fix, plans will include a new streetscape and a green space that Mayor Steve Skadron compared to Wagner Park.
“We’re doing it to protect a $50 million asset, and what we get is a second Wagner Park when it’s all done,” Skadron said. “So, it’s a short term of grief for 50 years of pleasure. We’re activating a space that is underutilized, and perhaps we can relieve some of the pressure that we see in Wagner Park.”
Capital Asset Department Project Manager Jack Wheeler said the streetscape will connect to Aspen’s downtown core with pedestrian mall-like features. Construction will coincide with the Pitkin County Library’s expansion.
The project includes the removal of 30 trees starting Feb. 19 in and around Galena Plaza, which Public Works Director Scott Miller noted has created a lot of concern from neighbors. The Parks Department explored alternatives, Miller said, but determined that the trees cannot be transplanted.
Councilman Art Daily urged city staff to get the project going as soon as possible after the council was offered the option to delay construction.
“There are inherent inefficiencies,” Daily said. “It makes more sense to me to go and complete the entire project now. I’d rather not put off until next year some of the work that we know needs to be done. There’s certain risks in that.”
In addition to the immediate $7.6 million cost, there is a future cost of $1.5 million to update the north end of the plaza. That aspect of the project has been deferred until a decision is made on the city’s $40 million building replacement project, which could potentially involve the construction of a new city hall at Galena Plaza.
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