Lease for new dispatch center gets approved
Preparations for the upcoming Pitkin County government diaspora continued Wednesday with county commissioners approving a lease for the new communications and dispatch center.
Now located on the north side of the Pitkin County Jail building, the communications center will move to the North 40 Fire Station at some point before construction begins on a new county government building this summer.
However, unlike all other county government offices, the dispatch center’s move will be permanent for several reasons, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.
First, moving the communications center, which handles 911 calls, law enforcement dispatch calls and emergency services calls, is expensive, he said. It would be far more expensive if the county had to move it twice, Peacock told commissioners.
Second, if the center remains where it is, the noise of the construction could hinder its ability to function. And if a construction accident severs utility lines, the communications center could be knocked offline, endangering public safety, Peacock said.
Third, the current communications center will be used as a construction management office for the county building project, he said.
Finally, the jail has been bumping up against its own capacity at times in recent years and may need to expand in the near future, Peacock said. Building jail square footage is very expensive, so it makes more sense to expand into areas in the same building rather than build more, he said.
The new lease for 2,900 square feet of space at the North 40 will begin Feb. 10 and run for the next 10 years. The county will pay $42,949 a year for the lease, which translates into $3,579 a month.
The current communications space is about 1,800 square feet, which will allow the communications center to expand, he said. The county will have to renovate the space in the new building before dispatchers move in.
The current 17,000 square foot county building at 530 E. Main St. will be gutted and completely rebuilt, with a 23,000 square foot building to be added to the back of it. Plans also call for an 8,000 square foot, 12 space parking garage underneath the building.
The current schedule envisions building plans being finalized by April, a building permit being issued by August and county employees moving in to the new $22 million building by fall 2017.
Most of the offices on the second and third floors of the current county building, including the county manager, attorney and Finance Department, will move downvalley during the construction period. Only the Clerk and Recorder’s Office and elections bureau will remain in Aspen because it requires regular contact with the general public.
The second and third floor departments will move to the River Park Center in Basalt. The lease for 8,000 square feet of space in that building will initially cost the county $9,686 a month and is set to run from Feb. 1 until Dec. 31, 2017.
The Clerk and Recorder’s Office will move to the Ute City and the Vectra Building in town.
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With Restoration Hardware as the future anchor tenant in the Bidwell Building at the corner of Galena Street and the Cooper Avenue Mall, its restaurant will serve the new jaz center above and next to the Red Onion.