Pitkin County building remains closed for asbestos probe | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County building remains closed for asbestos probe

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Air monitoring for asbestos exposure got underway at the Pitkin County Courthouse Plaza on Tuesday after the previous day’s inspection revealed several “hot spots” that contained traces of asbestos. The 18,000-square-foot building, located at 530 E. Main St. in Aspen, is closed until testing is complete. The shut-down is a precaution to protect employees and the public while air testing is taking place.

A professional air-quality testing team from Grand River Environmental, of Grand Junction, was called in as a precautionary measure when a routine test conducted found asbestos in some building material.

Initial results are expected by the end of Wednesday.

“Most of the employees that work in the building have Tuesday and Wednesday off,” said county spokeswoman Pat Bingham. “Some of the department heads are here today. We’re in an incident command scenario, which is the easiest way for us to set up a chain of command.”

A total of 64 employees work in the nearly 40-year-old building, which houses offices for the clerk and recorder, housing, finance, open space and trails, human resources, IT, county manager, and county attorney’s offices. The Pitkin County Board of Commissioners’ meeting room is also located on the ground floor of the building.

All employees who have offices in the Courthouse Plaza were instructed not to report to work on Tuesday, while arrangements are being made for satellite offices at their homes or elsewhere.

“We’re defining the nature of the problem, if there is one,” said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. “With any luck we’ll be back in the building and operating business as usual by this Thursday morning. We have little reason to believe that a health hazard exists inside the building at this time, but we are taking these precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our employees and the public.”

The top priority for continuity of Pitkin County government operations is reopening the Clerk and Recorder’s office and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority office.

Arrangements have been made to house the clerk’s mandated recording services in a temporary space at the treasurer’s office in the Courthouse at 506 E. Main St. The temporary recording office is expected to open by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The motor vehicle and elections departments will remain closed until further notice. Inquiries to the clerk’s office can be made by calling 970-920-5180.

The Housing Authority is being moved temporarily to its main property management office at 18 Truscott Place, adjacent to the Aspen Golf Course, where walk-in business can be accommodated. The housing office will operate under its normal business hours. Housing office inquiries can also continue to be made by calling 970-920-5050.

“We have identified key personnel for continuity of government business and have made accommodations for that in the short term,” Peacock said. “All inquires to the county can be made via our main administrative telephone number at 920-5200 or by emailing our departments directly.”

Updates will be posted on Pitkin Alert, http://www.aspenpitkin.com, the county’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pitkincounty, on Twitter and via local media outlets.