In Aspen, signs, signs, everywhere signs
The Aspen Times
Aspen Co, Colorado
ASPEN ” F.C. Dobbs operates heavy equipment for the city of Aspen’s Streets Department, but when there are no flakes flying and no road patching to do, he takes on the job of sign maker.
“We do whatever needs to be done,” Dobbs said recently while laying out stenciled letters to make a sign for Aspen Street.
Using metal cutouts that clip together for perfect spacing, Dobbs draws the lettering on a 3-foot-long slat of redwood, tracing the letters with a black Sharpie pen.
Nearby, Manuel Gomez puts the sign in a recessed jig, then uses a router to cut out the recessed letters by hand.
The two then paint the signs brown, with white lettering, and stack them to replace missing or damaged signs in the town’s residential streets.
“A lot of them are the ones that get knocked down, mainly from snow removal,” said Willy McFarlin, assistant street superintendent.
Signs in the downtown core are metal, but the wooden signs in the West End and in areas east of Aspen are more fragile.
Signs faded by the sun also need to be replaced, and the 4-by-4 posts they hang on need regular maintenance ” it’s all part of the city streets job, McFarlin said.
Doing the work themselves saves the department money, and he estimated the annual budget for wood and paint in the low hundreds.
“Every once in a while, you get people that want a street sign that says Aspen,” McFarlin said.
And Dobbs said street signs disappear regularly.
“Our Aspen [street] sign comes up missing a lot,” he said, adding that Juan Street is the second-most popular sign to be snatched.
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The city of Aspen is supposed to break ground on 300-plus housing units in 2024 but if Monday’s meeting with elected officials is any indication, the project could take years before coming online.