Courthouse will be altered to accommodate ADA entrance | AspenTimes.com

Courthouse will be altered to accommodate ADA entrance

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times An audit of Pitkin County government buildings identifies installation of a sprinkler system in the historic courthouse on Main Street in Aspen as a priority.

The sole entrance to the Pitkin County Courthouse once it's remodeled in the next year or so will remain the historic main entrance on Main Street.

A majority of Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday supported the proposal, though it will require the facade of the historic courthouse — built in 1890 — to be altered somewhat to accommodate a handicapped entrance that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Lady Justice is what really designates the courthouse," said Commissioner George Newman, referring to the unblindfolded statue above the main door. "It signifies the importance of walking into the courthouse."

Commissioner Rachel Richards said the visual impact of the alteration is minor and could perhaps be mitigated by landscaping, while allowing disabled people dignified access to the same entrance everyone else will use.

Board Chairwoman Patti Clapper, however, was having none of it.

"Denigrating anything on the face of the building is totally unacceptable," she said. "You're cutting a hole in the face of the courthouse. That's our historic courthouse and the face of that historic courthouse should remain historic."

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The design envisions turning a "garden-level" window to the right of the entrance into a door to accommodate an internal lift that would take a disabled person up to the security station at the front entrance. It will cost about $357,000 to build that version of the entrance.

Other options included making the main entrance the west entrance on the main level, which would require significant internal alterations and cost more than $385,000, or the basement-level north entrance, which would cost about $157,000, according to county documents. Security would be in a less advantageous position with those two designs, Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan said.

Clapper said she preferred the west entrance option despite the expense.

"It makes me sick," she said of the majority support for the main entrance before moving on to the next topic Tuesday.

The courthouse will go from four public entrances to one for safety reasons with the new remodel, which could begin this winter.

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