Pitkin County courthouse pretty in pink?
September 30, 2011
ASPEN – The Pitkin County Courthouse will go pink starting Saturday in recognition of the 25th anniversary of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
County commissioners narrowly agreed Wednesday to allow the nighttime lighting of the historic structure in pink at the request of a local representative of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization devoted to fighting breast cancer. Its logo is a pink ribbon.
The county’s building maintenance department was busy Thursday checking for the fixtures it used the last time the courthouse was lit in pink. That was six years ago, according to Marcia Goshorn, president of the board of directors for Aspen’s Komen affiliate. Red bulbs shining on the red brick building will give it a pink glow after dark, according to Jodi Smith, county facilities manager.
The entire facade won’t be lit, but the distinctive building’s tower and statue of Lady Justice, perched above the front door of the courthouse, will be lit at night throughout the month. Smith was exploring the use of a timer so the pink lighting wouldn’t glow all through the night, though.
Some commissioners on Wednesday couldn’t recall that the building had ever been lit in pink before, however, and were hesitant to open the doors to similar displays on behalf of various nonprofits.
“Other groups could say, ‘I’d like the courthouse blue this month;’ ‘I’d like the courthouse green this month,'” said Commissioner Rachel Richards.
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“My problem is … somebody’s going to want it every week,” Commissioner Rob Ittner predicted.
Commissioners Michael Owsley and George Newman objected to the lighting scheme as not in keeping with the integrity of the building and its function.
Owsley said he supports Komen’s efforts, “but I don’t think lighting up the courthouse in pink is the way to go.”
“I’d be happy to wear a pink sports jacket to our meetings for the month of October,” he added.
“To me, that’s not the use for, not only public facilities, but historic public facilities,” Newman said. “I just don’t think a public historic structure like the courthouse is the right way to show support for the Komen Foundation.”
Hatfield said he was on the fence, but ultimately opted to support the display, and Ittner said he was comfortable with displays for such infrequent milestones as 25th and 50th anniversaries.
Richards said she was comfortable with the pink lighting after receiving assurance from Chris Seldin, assistant county attorney, that it needn’t lead to a “free for all” of similar displays.
“My feeling is, you can respect the historic building while bringing some life to it,” she said Thursday.
“I think it makes our courthouse building a little more of a participant in our community life,” she told commissioners during Wednesday’s discussion.
Goshorn outlined similar efforts across Colorado and the nation. The Colorado Statehouse and the White House will be cast in pink lighting and also display pink ribbons during October, she said.
In Aspen, the Sardy House tree, typically lit up for the holidays, will be lit in pink for the October observance, according to Goshorn, and she is working with the city of Aspen on a display of some sort. The front of City Hall, facing Galena Street, is mostly obscured by trees, but Goshorn has suggested the trees be strung with pink lights.
Komen, which funds breast cancer research and health services among its causes, pays for mammograms for women who cannot afford the diagnostic screening.