City of Aspen looks to give financial relief to Marshall Fire victims on Front Range |

City of Aspen looks to give financial relief to Marshall Fire victims on Front Range

Aspen City Council supports up to $5K and is looking to see if community wants to donate as well

Abby McClelland and her husband sort through clothes at a donation site on Jan. 4 in Boulder. The couple lost their home and all their belongings in the Marshall Fire in Superior, Colo. (Brittany Peterson/AP)

Aspen’s elected officials agreed on Tuesday to give up to $5,000 toward relief efforts for those suffering from the Marshall Fire on the Front Range and are gauging the community’s desire to also donate to the cause.

Aspen City Council expressed support during its regular meeting for Councilmember Rachel Richards’ suggestion of a donation to help the communities in the city of Louisville, the town of Superior and the city and county of Broomfield recover from last month’s devasting fire that burned hundreds of homes, affecting thousands of people.

“I thought a token $3,000 type of contribution to the broader relief funds and take a little time to select ones that will be really meaningful would be a good human gesture from the city of Aspen,” she said. “I think we’d appreciate when neighboring fellow municipalities offer even a token of some support and empathy for the issue.”

She added that Pitkin County provided mutual aid in staff and equipment to the Front Range when the devastating floods occurred in 2013.

The city donating money to another community regardless of its political stance is not unprecedented, Richards added.

“Aspen did contribute to the small town of Granby, which also would have been very politically different from us, when they had a madman destroy their town hall and their main street,” she said.

Mayor Torre said every penny helps, and noted that he has had members of the public contact him over the past month saying they want to help.

“Let’s get the word out that the city of Aspen is looking to do this and see if there’s any other members of our community that would like to participate as well,” he said. “I think we have an opportunity to bolster what we are going to do and see if we get some more funds from community members that are thinking the same way as we are.”

Councilmember Skippy Mesirow suggested having staff look into what is the most effective way to give.

“I think this is about neighborliness and showing up in a time of need, irregardless of one’s political beliefs or wealth or general culture and I think as long as we’re grounding it in that, that’s absolutely appropriate and an honor and a gift to be able to do something,” he said.

Councilmember Ward Hauenstein suggested commissioning an art sculpture to commemorate the tragedy, noting that he wasn’t sure how much impact Richards’ suggestion of $3,000 would have.

“Instead of it just disappearing into a big pot,” he said.

Councilmember John Doyle said he thinks the contribution should be $5,000 and the community affected should decide how it should be spent.

Assistant City Manager Diane Foster said Wednesday that staff will research the best organizations to donate to and bring back to council on Feb. 7 options for contributing for both the city and the community.