Aspen’s Wagner Park shed design halted, rerouted to council
The Aspen Times
Aspen Parks Department officials are going back to the drawing board with their proposal to build a maintenance building in Wagner Park after a resident and Aspen City Council members expressed concern about the size and location of the structure.
The 11-foot-tall, 360-square-foot maintenance shed, proposed to be built into the park hillside, would house Parks equipment and an electrical transformer used to power special events such as the Food & Wine Classic and future pedestrian-mall upgrades. Without the transformer, Wagner Park’s brand-new electrical system, which was installed recently as part of a $1 million field resurfacing, would have no power source.
While Parks officials believe Wagner Park is the ideal location for the structure, Mayor Steve Skadron and Councilman Adam Frisch agreed with resident Marcia Goshorn at a recent council meeting that it might not be the best plan. Both officials reached out to department heads shortly after the public discussion. Skadron said Thursday that when he met with City Manager Steve Barwick and Parks Manager Jeff Woods, the consensus was to scrap the proposal.
“We want to leave the smallest possible footprint,” Skadron said.
Parks Department Project Manager Scott Chism said Thursday that the location at Wagner Park was identified as the ideal place to house the equipment if the city undertakes its comprehensive utility upgrade.
“There are no other buildings on the pedestrian mall that could house this type of infrastructure,” Chism said.
By Thursday, Parks officials had canceled a hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission, which would have weighed the initial design leading up to council review. Instead, Parks will check in with the council with two designs, the second being less invasive but requiring equipment storage elsewhere.
Frisch noted that the Parks Department has both a talented staff that handles a lot of voter-approved funding, which combined helps create and maintain a world-class parks system in Aspen.
“You have a lot of good ideas with a lot of good people, and I think Parks feels rightly that the entire community, as well as the tourist base, we’re all partly here because of our incredible park system,” Frisch said. “If the building needs to be that big, we need to have a discussion about it.”
He added that he can’t think of a worse place for equipment storage than in Aspen’s “Central Park.”
As proposed, the project would require a conditional-use review, given that a parks maintenance facility isn’t considered a permitted use in the parks zone district. The project would need approval to ensure the structure is compatible with its surroundings. Dimensions of the structure are set through a planned-development review, so there are no baseline numbers to compare the project with, according to the Community Development Department.
The transformer and electrical assembly are seen as a vital part of Aspen’s comprehensive downtown-utility overhaul, which is tentatively scheduled for 2017 and 2018. The pedestrian-mall project would include the exploration of traffic flows, utility lines and overall layout. Wi-Fi capabilities, opportunities for more space and the future of the creek that runs through the malls also will be up for discussion.
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