Council members have different views on what to do with screens
The city may take its new screens off the windows on Aspen City Hall this fall, but whether they’ll go up again in the spring has yet to be decided.
Mayor Rachel Richards suggested yesterday that the City Council discuss the cost of replacing the controversial aluminum screens with wood-framed ones when it takes up next year’s budget this fall. The council can decide at that time whether to keep the screens or scrap them, she said.
Councilman Terry Paulson pressed the council on the fate of the screens during its informal lunch meeting Monday.
“I’m wondering if we feel guilty enough to do something about it or just let it go,” said Paulson, suggesting that a private homeowner would face sanctions for putting screens on a historic residence without permission.
The city put the aluminum screens on the 108-year-old City Hall last month without consulting with its Historic Preservation Committee. HPC members were upset. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Julie Ann Woods, director of the city’s community development department, made an administrative decision to approve the screens.
“There were no rules broken,” City Attorney John Worcester assured the council yesterday. “It did not require HPC approval – it was an administrative decision that the community development department could make for a private homeowner.”
Whether the council feels it should have had a say is another matter, Worcester said.
“I do feel, as stewards of this building, we should have been consulted,” Paulson said.
“I think we need to avoid the perception that we’re greasing the slide or letting something slip through,” said Councilman Jim Markalunas.
Councilman Tom McCabe, on the other hand, has repeatedly said he has no qualms about the staff decision to put the modern screens on City Hall.
“The added expense of making anyone . make a historically accurate screen is a bit too much,” he said.
During a discussion of the HPC guidelines last month, both McCabe and Councilman Tony Hershey suggested HPC regulation of screens on windows was going overboard.
But Markalunas argued at that meeting that the city should abide by whatever standards it sets for private owners of historic structures.
“I really think the city needs to be chastised a little bit,” he said. “Hopefully, we won’t make that mistake again.”
Richards said the matter should have come to the council for a decision on how much it wanted to spend on the screens.
“I personally think a mistake was made by our staff,” she said last month. “I would have liked, as a council, to have had an opportunity to vote on that.”
The city spent $6,000 on the aluminum-framed screens, which are custom-made to fit the City Hall windows, which all differ in size.
Wood-framed screens would have cost two to three times more, according to Ed Sadler, the city’s asset manager. In addition, some of the windows at City Hall have little room to accommodate the thicker frame of a wood screen.
The aluminum screens didn’t require modification to the old building, he said.
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