Poster defaces Emma Store | AspenTimes.com

Poster defaces Emma Store

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

EMMA – The historic Emma Store has been defaced by a poster that was recently glued to the bricks of the building.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails officials were dismayed to discover that a structure the county spent more than $600,000 restoring (including nearly $244,000 in state grant money) was the target of vandalism. The offense has been reported to the sheriff’s office, said John Armstrong, Open Space and Trails ranger.

“The fact that it’s very historic, very soft brick means we’re going to have to be careful on how we remove it,” he said.

It appears that the blue-and-white poster was affixed with a soft glue and that it might be removable with water and a plastic instrument to scrape it away carefully, according to Gary Tennenbaum, Open Space and Trails land steward.

“It’s really sad to see that somebody tried to put it up there,” he said last week, during a meeting of the Open Space and Trails board of directors. “We’re going to try to get it off as soon as possible.”

The poster was affixed to the west side the building, facing downvalley. Board member Howie Mallory asked whether the county has the ability to have a mural painted on the broad wall, which faces upvalley traffic on Highway 82, but the suggestion generated little enthusiasm.

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The store, actually two side-by-side buildings that date back to 1898, was the focus of a painstaking restoration effort after the county Open Space and Trails program purchased the property in 2008. The store was in danger of complete collapse; the roof had already caved in.

The county is now turning its attention to a small square structure known as the powder house, located behind the store, which is also crumbling. Some work has already been done to shore it up.

Open Space and Trails is budgeting $46,646 in 2012, to be paired with a $94,706 state historic grant, to repair the powder house, but board member Tai Jacober said he is reluctant to spend any more funds on restoration of the Emma buildings without a plan to put them to use.

Board member Tim McFlynn suggested that the powder house restoration go forward with the understanding that the board will decide the fate of the Emma buildings next year rather than continually putting off the discussion in favor of more pressing matters.

“We could postpone that a year at a time for a long time,” McFlynn said, urging the board to put the topic on the front burner. The board agreed.

The Open Space and Trails program acquired the 12.5-acre site at Emma, just downvalley from Basalt, with the ability to either seek a rezoning to use the historic buildings or to resell them. The property includes a brick, Victorian house, which is serving as a residence, the store and the powder house. The property includes Roaring Fork River frontage and other elements that the county would retain even if it sold the piece containing the buildings, Will has said.

“If it wasn’t for the opportunity to resell it, I don’t think we would have done it,” Will said of the purchase. “We’re investing in an asset that we can later resell off to someone and recoup our investment or we’re investing in something that we can then use for our own facilities.”

janet@aspentimes.com