Fire station plans advance
Aspen Fire Protection District officials met with the Design Review and Historic Preservation commissions Wednesday to gain support for a new fire station downtown.The fire district is proposing a maximum 20,000-square-foot facility to replace the current 8,000-square-foot structure at 420 E. Hopkins Ave. The proposed three-story building would consist of four bays to house fire engines, including a new aerial truck and an ambulance, which the fire district currently doesn’t have downtown. The second floor would allow for office space, a conference room and a multipurpose room for training sessions, and an emergency operations center if necessary. The third floor would remain largely undeveloped to accommodate future needs. Fire Chief Darryl Grob said it could be used for a small fire station museum and children’s learning center in the meantime.The fire district sought preliminary approval from the Historic Preservation Commission because the setback it needs for bays does not fall within guidelines. Overall, commissioners supported the project, saying the setback may create opportunities to create a court or other pedestrian-friendly features.”We have the ability to vary guidelines with the intent to look at the whole,” said Vice Chairman Michael Hoffman. “I think we can all get along.”The Historic Preservation Commission also suggested incorporating employee housing into the downtown fire station, which Grob said he would consider.After several meetings with the city this month, Grob plans to estimate the cost and then present a bond issue to voters in May.If the bond issue passes, the fire district would first focus on building the North 40 Fire Station in the Aspen Airport Business Center. Currently, it has money for the planning portion of the North 40 Fire Station but is relying on funds from the sale of bonds to build the structure. It hopes to begin construction June 1 and finish within 14 months. When it completes the North 40 Fire Station, it plans to start building the new fire station in town; the earliest groundbreaking date would be summer 2007, Grob said.Kimberly Nicoletti’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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