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New radio tower proposed for Loge Peak at Aspen Highlands

Sharp-eyed Aspenites might notice a bit of construction going on atop Loge Peak at Aspen Highlands this fall.

No, it will have nothing to do with a new lift or even skiing in general. However, it just might save your life one day.

That’s because, provided Pitkin County commissioners give their preliminary stamp of approval Wednesday, the 14-foot-high communications tower to be built on the peak will be an integral part of a new, statewide digital network that will eventually allow all public-safety departments to communicate on the same system, said Kara Silbernagel, a county analyst.

“A lot of emergency responders are not on the same frequency,” she said.

The tower will become part of a new digital network emergency dispatchers will begin using once Pitkin County’s dispatch facility moves from the county jail complex downtown to the North 40 Fire Station at the Aspen Business Center. The county is spending $1.8 million to relocate the dispatch center, which is scheduled to occur next month, Silbernagel said.

Pitkin County commissioners are scheduled to talk about and possibly approve a 20-year lease with the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday for the new communications tower on Loge Peak. The project has already gone through an environmental assessment by the Forest Service, which found no problems, and has been approved by the Pitkin County Planning and Zoning board, according to a memo from Silbernagel to commissioners.

The county will not pay anything for the lease, according to the proposed ordinance commissioners could approve Wednesday.

The project comes in front of commissioners in the form of an emergency ordinance, which will allow construction to begin on the tower as soon as possible before winter weather begins, the memo states. The project could begin after it is confirmed by commissioners a second time Sept. 14.

The tower will consist of a 14-foot-tall, 8-foot-by-10-foot, four-post galvanized steel antenna platform that will host not only the new public safety digital network but also other public safety radio features, two forest service repeaters, FM radio, commercial services and microwave service, according to the proposed ordinance.

The tower will cost $75,000 to build, Silbernagel said. However, an agreement with Aspen Skiing Co. to house the radio equipment associated with the new tower inside the ski patrol building at the top of Loge Peak will save the county money, she said.

The Loge Peak site will be part of nine other sites in the area that will create a “robust public-safety system” for Roaring Fork Valley emergency-response departments, including police and fire, Silbernagel said.

A parallel effort to provide broadband services to rural areas of the county also could piggyback on those sites, she said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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