Overhaul coming for Aspen’s Galena Street Plaza | AspenTimes.com

Overhaul coming for Aspen’s Galena Street Plaza

ASPEN – The Aspen city government plans to complete more than $3 million of work that will overhaul the Rio Grande parking garage, the Galena Street Plaza and several roads.

While the city of Aspen has faced deep budget cuts this year and into 2010, including laying off 21 people, it has budgeted $17.6 million for capital improvements next year.

The Aspen City Council last week was presented with two major projects, funded out of the city’s asset management plan, that were given preliminary approval as part of the 2010 budget review.

The largest and most expensive project is renovating the Rio Grande parking garage, which includes replacing a damaged and leaky roof. Located above the garage is Galena Street Plaza, a grassy area situated between the library and former youth center. That also will get an overhaul because of its defective drainage issues that have been damaging the garage.

Contracts with designers and engineers are in place for $2.5 million, but based on prior council direction, more in-depth plans have surfaced that add more than $1 million to that price tag. Two options were presented to the council, which opted for the less-expensive, in-house proposal. Instead of spending nearly $3.9 million with a team of outside consultants and firms, officials in the city asset management department said they can do it for about $3.6 million, saving taxpayers $275,000.

Asset managers estimate that design fees will cost $345,000 and construction will amount to $3.3 million. About $300,000 for the project has been set aside in the asset management fund. The rest is proposed to come out of the parking and transportation fund, which is fueled by sales tax dollars.

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But Mayor Mick Ireland questioned why some of the work isn’t being paid for by the parks department since Galena Street Plaza is considered a park.

“This is an unusual case,” he said of multiple departments having jurisdiction over one project. “There needs to be some sort of allocation that makes sense … fundamentally if some of this belongs to other departments, you have to allocate to all of them.”

Officials from the parks department said they would crunch the numbers and propose a certain dollar amount to contribute to the project.

Jerry Nye, the city’s streets supervisor, and Trish Aragon, city engineer, mapped out a plan for council that includes $776,000 worth of improvements to streets, curbs and gutters.

It’s part of a long-term plan to keep Aspen’s 30 or so miles of streets, and 27 miles of curbs and gutters, up to the standards they require. So far, Nye said the city does a good job of staying on top of street conditions – they have an average rating of 70 on what’s known as a “pavement condition index.” Anything below a 62 is considered sub par; none of Aspen’s streets fall below that mark.

Improvements for next year are part of a multimillion-dollar plan that’s scheduled out for 30 years. Nye said curbs and gutters have an average life of 10 to 12 years. The key to keeping them last is making sure that they don’t improperly drain, which can lead to structural problems and pedestrian tripping hazards.

“The whole theory of the project is to be preventative,” Nye said.

The council will be reviewing the 2010 proposed budget for the next few weeks, with an expected adoption in November.

csack@aspentimes.com