Aspen’s Rio Grande work nears completion |

Aspen’s Rio Grande work nears completion

Jesus Bera, of GZO Sheet Metal & Roofing Inc., prepares to lay drip flashing to protect the roof of the new restrooms at the Rio Grande park from water damage on Wednesday afternoon.
Abby Margulis/Special to The Aspen Times |

The drainage-improvement project at Rio Grande Park is nearing completion, and the closed portion of the trail near the John Denver Sanctuary and Theatre Aspen Tent could open as early as Thanksgiving.

“We’re about 75 percent complete with about a month to go,” said Scott Chism, a project manager for the city Parks and Recreation Department.

Construction on the first phase, which primarily involved the creation of stormwater ponds and a wetlands area between the basketball court and the John Denver Sanctuary, began in 2011 with the city earmarking around $200,000 for that phase in its 2011 budget.

About $1.1 million is budgeted for Phase 2, including a $606,000 contract with Rudd Construction to build a public restroom and a pumping station that irrigates nonpotable (non-drinking) water to the park. It also features more stormwater pond and wetlands areas north of the park’s grass playing field.

The public restroom will include a composting toilet system, in which human waste will be removed every eight to 12 months and taken to the Pitkin County Landfill. It also will feature a gray-water system, in which sink water will be recycled for garden irrigation.

“It means that much more potable water can be used elsewhere in town,” Chism said.

He estimates that construction will be completed by the third week in November. But while the detour along the Rio Grande Trail will be removed, the restrooms will not be open immediately. Project completion will be followed by a testing period and then a soft opening. The goal is to have the facility open year-round, but Chism said the city is considering offseason closures.

As far as maintenance, the bathrooms will operate much like the facility at Wagner Park. Crews will spend about an hour a month maintaining the basement area, where the composting toilet-system units are housed. A cleaning schedule for the facility will be based on the amount of users.

Rio Grande Park currently offers portable toilets, and Chism said the upgrade will be significantly better for trail users, park users and athletes using the basketball courts and skate park.

The exterior of the building is made up mostly of cobblestone, which has been found and processed in the Roaring Fork Valley. The roof, much like at Wagner Park, will contain solar panels. On Wednesday, Rudd Construction was securing the concrete around the structure, while GZO Sheet Metal & Roofing worked on the facility’s upper portion.

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