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Aspen council wants more information on hospital project

Aaron Hedge
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen City Council members want more information about the proposed expansion of Aspen Valley Hospital before they’re willing to support it.

The council offered its initial input Monday to hospital CEO Dave Ressler and his team of designers.

Councilman Torre expressed the deepest concern about the size of the project, specifically a number of affordable housing units it included.

“Once this is in the ground, it won’t just feel like a picture on a screen,” Torre said after applauding Ressler for the project. “… I saw that and thought, ‘You know what? That is gonna have an impact.'”

Hospital officials and employees said during the public comment section of the hearing that the hospital is in dire need of the expansion to continue to comply with federal privacy rules for medical patients.

Doctors and nurses said the current facility is tight on space, allowing patients to easily hear the conversations that happen in the next room. The hospital also has some shared patient rooms; the expansion would allow private rooms for all patients.

“You would never hear of checking into a hotel room, and your neighbor’s already there and you have to share a bathroom,” Ressler said during his presentation.

But some nearby community members voiced concern about the expansion exacerbating existing annoyances about the hospital, including noise produced by the machines that operate there.

“It’s an industrial facility, and it’s our neighbor,” said Peggy Carlson, who is acting treasurer of the Meadowood homeowner’s association. Carlson clarified that she was not representing the HOA in the meeting, but only speaking as a concerned community member.

The council indicated it would approve the second phase of the project if Ressler brought sufficient information to the next hearing, set for June 28.

If approved, the project will include nine new offices for doctors, several affordable housing units and a new service road that will border the 19-acre property. New square footage will total 214,000, almost tripling the size of the current facility. The four-phase project, which was approved on a conceptual level last year, has a price tag of about $120 million.

Mayor Mick Ireland was not at the meeting due to a nasty bike accident he suffered Sunday while riding down Independence Pass.

ahedge@aspentimes.com


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