Plans for new Aspen fire station blaze ahead |

Plans for new Aspen fire station blaze ahead

Kimberly Nicoletti

Fire Chief Darryl Grob is lighting a fire under people to gain approval for a new station in Aspen’s core.The Aspen Fire Protection District hopes to build a three-story fire station to replace the outdated station at 420 E. Hopkins Ave. In the existing building, the bays are cramped and poorly insulated, the training room and office space are both too small, storage facilities are inadequate, and there isn’t enough room for future volunteer staff, according to a statement the AFPD prepared for Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting.A new facility, built on the existing site, would ideally provide training rooms, a multipurpose room and an emergency operations center. The first floor ceilings would be 18 feet high, allowing firefighters to service equipment indoors, Grob said. The second floor would allow The Thrift Shop, which donates money to community organizations from its sales, to expand from 2,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet, said store representative Nancy Gensch. The third floor would remain undeveloped to accommodate future needs. The building also would house a new aerial fire truck, with a ladder reaching at least 100 feet high to fight flare-ups in new, taller buildings in the core.In addition to the in-town facility, the AFPD hopes to build the North 40 Fire Station near the Aspen Business Center, which would service areas west of town.But to proceed, the AFPD needs voters’ support. And before it approaches voters on a bond issue in May, it needs to know how much the projects will cost; Grob already knows the aerial truck will cost close to a million dollars.Monday, City Council approved the AFPD’s request for COWOP, or Convenience and Welfare of the Public, eligibility. COWOP is used when city properties are involved in development applications. The city owns the station site and leases it to the AFPD. A COWOP committee consists of citizens, neighboring property owners and various city representatives.On Jan. 23, City Council will discuss its goals for the project. Grob hopes to have conceptual buy-in by the Historic Preservation Commission, City Council and the fire district by mid-February.”[The fire station’s] sort of a cultural icon, and it will be interesting to see what that transforms into when the public gets to interact with us,” Grob said.He also is asking for a 20-year lease extension beyond the current lease, which expires in 2021.”If [it costs] several million of dollars, we want to be assured that the facility will be able to perform for a reasonable period of time, commensurable with the investment,” Grob said. And if the bond issue fails in May, Grob plans to find another way to continue.”We will proceed in some fashion, I’m reasonably confident,” he said. “We would redistribute resources to get by.”Kimberly Nicoletti’s e-mail address is

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