City of Aspen moves forward with Galena Street relocation plan
The city of Aspen is moving forward with a plan to relocate all of its operations to a new plaza on Galena Street.
In a work session Monday evening, Aspen City Council voted 4-1 for the Galena Street option as part of the city’s Civic Space Relocation Project.
During a July 14 work session, the council expressed a 3-2 majority support of the Galena project, but the council requested that staff come back to them with further information on the public-service possibilities of each option — the Galena option and an Armory option — including more information about costs and design, according to a memorandum to the council from Capital Asset Manager Jack Wheeler, Capital Asset Project Manager Jeff Pendarvis and Public Works Director Scott Miller.
In an effort to alleviate some of these concerns, city staff presented a more comprehensive design of the Galena option, which addressed Councilman Adam Frisch’s prior question of what the new Galena building will look like to somebody walking down Main Street or hanging out downtown.
As far as finances, the Armory option total cost is estimated at $57.31 million, while the Galena option estimate is $48.31 million.
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Councilman Bert Myrin was the one vote in favor of the Armory option during the work session.
Mayor Steve Skadron, who was one of the two council members who did not vote in favor of the Galena option during the July 14 work session, told Myrin there are consequences to the Armory option that Myrin suggested.
Skadron said it is a mistake to consider the relocation project as something the city wants to do, noting that the “community is evolving.”
Skadron said his “heart is trying to retain this building for City Hall,” but in adding up all of the components, one option is more costly, inefficient and carries more risk when considering a 50-year future, he said.
“And the other option is likely more flexible, cheaper, efficient and smarter,” Skadron said.
Frisch agreed with Skadron, saying that “no one is jumping up and down to do this,” but that it will “cost us a tremendous amount of money if we do anything other than build a new building.”
What will happen to the Armory building, where City Hall is currently located, is unknown, though possibilities are being explored.
One idea that also was presented before the council by Darnauer Group Communications at the work session is to return the building to its historical use as a community center.
Before it became the City Hall in the late 1950s, the Armory building was used “by a number of different organizations for a lot of different purposes,” said Kelly Murphy of the Aspen Historical Society.
The group proposed that the building return to its historical roots and serve as a resource for the community that may be enjoyed as a concert venue, dance hall, space for political gatherings, fundraisers, youth groups, food court, roller skating, athletic offerings and even a bad-weather alternative to the Saturday market.
While these options were well received by much of the council, it said it would want to hear from the community on what it would like to see happen in this space before continuing the conversation.
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