Big buildings need big fire truck |

Big buildings need big fire truck

The Aspen Fire Protection District is disputing an assertion that an upcoming bond election to fund new facilities would also make taxpayers shoulder the cost of a new fire truck to serve big development.An e-mail making the rounds argues the developers of big new buildings ought to be paying the cost of a $1 million aerial truck. The author of the message says he or she will vote “no” on the ballot issue, and calls for a fairer approach to paying for new growth.Fire Chief Darryl Grob doesn’t disagree. In fact, he said, paying for the truck is no longer folded into the $14 million bond issue that will go to voters next month.”It was pulled from the bond issue a couple of months ago, precisely because of the arguments made in that e-mail,” Grob said. The larger buildings under construction or planned in Aspen’s core are driving the need for the larger truck, he conceded, but the premise of the e-mail – that district taxpayers will foot the bill – is incorrect, he said.Instead, funding for the truck could come from a new impact fee the city is considering. “It would be focused on the kind of developments that are generating the need,” Grob said.The department has a 75-foot ladder truck in its fleet. The new aerial truck, with a platform on a 100-foot articulated arm, will give firefighters better maneuverability to reach high places.Purchase of the truck is probably three or four years away, Grob said. The new apparatus probably wouldn’t fit in the existing fire station on Hopkins Avenue, Grob added.”That’s one of the reasons we’re replacing the station,” he said.On May 2, district voters will consider a bond issue to support the construction of a new fire station at North 40, near the Aspen Airport Business Center, and an overhaul of its downtown headquarters on Hopkins.The 87-square-mile district extends from Difficult Campground east of Aspen to the upper end of Snowmass Canyon and encompasses the Maroon and Castle Creek valleys, as well as much of the Woody Creek Valley. The roughly 6,300 registered voters within its boundaries are eligible to vote on the ballot issue.It has been a quiet election season, but among residents who have spoken to fire district officials, there appears to be strong support for the measure, Grob said.The fire chief said he does not know who wrote the critical e-mail, but he said at least one member of his department does know and intends to set the individual straight regarding the facts. So far, slightly more than 100 voters have cast absentee ballots in the district election. Anyone who wants a ballot mailed to them needs to contact the department by today’s cutoff. Absentee ballots are available to pick up in person through April 28; they can be returned until 7 p.m. election day.Voting on May 2 will take place at the fire station on Hopkins.If the bond issue is approved, the new debt would mean an additional $64.54 in annual property taxes for every $1 million in assessed residential value, or $6.55 per year per $100,000 in assessed residential value, according to Citizens for Aspen Fire, the election committee supporting the measure..Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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