Aspen’s police chief is now an Aspen resident
ASPEN – Police Chief Richard Pryor has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 21 years, but it wasn’t until recently that he became a resident of this mountain town.
The police chief of nearly three years and his wife, Philippa Anne, last week bought a Doolittle Drive house for $245,000 from the city of Aspen. It’s the same house that former police chief Loren Ryerson had owned since August 2005, when he and his wife, Mary, bought it from the city for $326,836, according to public records.
The city let Ryerson live in the housing for 2 1/2 years after he resigned from the force in November 2007 following some employees’ allegations of sexual misconduct. In June, Ryerson sold the house back to the city for $348,388, records show. That’s $103,388 more than what Pryor paid for it.
The discrepancy is because Ryerson and Pryor are both in different housing categories, said City Manager Steve Barwick. The housing category guidelines are set by the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, which bases affordable housing prices on a household’s combined income. For instance, the more a family earns, the more it pays for affordable housing, and vice versa.
Unlike other deed-restricted homes and units in Aspen, which are typically assigned categories by the City Council, city employee-owned housing categories can change with the workers who own them, said Randy Ready, assistant city manager. The Ryersons, for instance, bought the home as resident occupied, or RO, in which there is no income requirement but total net assets are limited to $900,000. The Pryor family was Category 4 (two dependents, maximum annual income of $148,000), Ready said.
“It easily could have gone the other way,” Ready said.
Pryor had lived in Missouri Heights above El Jebel, a good 45-minute commute to Aspen.
“Now it’s a 5- or 10-minute bike ride into town,” Pryor said.
He added, “This is a high-profile job and it’s important for a person involved in the community to live in the community in which he’s a director.”
The police chief, unlike the sheriff, is not an elected position, and the chief is not required to live in the jurisdiction over which he or she presides. Like all elected officials, the sheriff, however, must reside in the county he or she works for.
Pryor, whose two children attend Aspen public schools, put his Missouri Heights home on the market in July for $699,000. His housing contract states that he must sell the house within 180 days. If he doesn’t, and the Housing Authority “makes no adjustments to the free market ownership rules for this owner,” Pryor will have an additional 180 days to convey the property to the city in exchange for payment for his city housing, according to the occupancy and resale deed restriction tied to the Aspen home.
“Will we be able to sell it in the next six months? I doubt it,” Pryor said.
The contract also says Pryor has 180 days to sell his Doolittle home back to the city when he is no longer under its employ.
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