Aspen police sign ‘too bold’ |

Aspen police sign ‘too bold’

The Aspen Police Department sign on Main Street.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The city of Aspen will change its sign in front of the new Police Department because it’s too big, violates the government’s own rules and doesn’t send the right message to the public.

It measures at 16.62 square feet and the city allows 6 square feet. It’s considered a monument sign, and the lighting is a type that is typically only allowed for retail, restaurant and lodges.

“I think it’s inappropriate,” Aspen resident Mike Maple told the council at a public meeting last month.

“Business owners and property owners have to abide by the sign code but right now on Main Street, though, there is a gigantic sign,” he said. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron agreed with Maple and said he thought the same thing at the June 1 grand opening for the Police Department’s new public safety building.

“It seemed overwhelmingly bold to me,” he said, adding the sign was discussed during Monday’s council meeting.

It was decided that the sign, which had a price tag of $13,000, should be swapped out for something smaller and possibly placed on the building, Skadron said.

“When you come in from (Independence Pass), it’s the first thing you see,” he said. “I don’t love that’s what tourists see when they come to town.”

Maple said the city’s sign code is well intentioned and has been developed over the decades with good ideas.

“The government needs to adhere to those same good ideas,” he said. “Let’s have something appropriate for the scale of our community.”

The code allows for the government to be exempt if the sign addresses community safety. Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor felt that the public safety building is an essential facility that people need to find easily.

“All we need is a functioning sign to let people know we’re here,” Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said. “The sign was designed to find us in case of an emergency.”

Both the police chief and city manager have the authority under city regulations and state and local codes to waive size restrictions to comply with obligations to provide efficient services, and health, safety and welfare of the community, according to Jessica Garrow, the city’s Community Development director.

The city waived the sign identifying Aspen Valley Hospital for the same reasoning, she added.

“It was felt that people need to easily find hospitals and police stations,” Garrow wrote in an email.

Before it moved to its new building on Main Street, the Police Department was located in the basement of the Pitkin County Courthouse for decades. There was a small sign above the stairs leading to the subterranean space.

“We’d have to give people directions all the time,” Linn said.


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