Firemen may get housing |

Firemen may get housing

Sarah S. Chung

The Aspen Fire Department, losing firefighters who can’t afford housing here, has offered to join Pitkin County as a partner in development of the Stillwater housing project.

In a preliminary discussion Tuesday, Pitkin County commissioners were receptive to the idea.

With a conceptual application for the project is still months away, commissioners were hesitant to talk specifics with the fire department. Nonetheless, commissioners were everything from “very enthusiastic” to “tickled” about the prospect of gaining a financial partner and helping house local volunteer firefighters in the process.

Early plans from the Housing Authority call for 16 to 20 units on the Stillwater property, located east of Aspen along the Roaring Fork River. Resistance from neighbors, however, could bring the density down before a conceptual plan is submitted.

Depending on the number of units proposed, commissioners said 50 to 80 percent of the project could be dedicated to housing firefighters. However, both county and fire department officials agreed it’s too early in the process to establish that percentage.

“We’re not looking to solve our housing problem in one fell swoop,” said Darryl Grob, Aspen fire chief. “This is just one step, but it’s an important step. The exodus in the last few years has impacted us pretty severely.”

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