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Security cameras to keep watch on Aspen’s Marolt housing

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Security cameras are in the works for the Marolt Ranch housing complex in Aspen despite one Pitkin County commissioner’s concern that the intrusive measure suggests the workers who live there are “second-level citizens.”

Commissioner Jack Hatfield asked Tom McCabe, director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, to update the board on the plan for the cameras although the housing complex is owned by the city of Aspen. It is managed by the city/county authority, housing seasonal workers in the winter and Aspen Music Festival and School students during the summer.

It is the ski season crowd that has been problematic, according to McCabe.

“We have a population that seems to party hardy, and we’ve had some problems there,” he told commissioners Tuesday.

Marolt has experienced problems with vandalism and threatening behavior, along with some illegal dumping in its Dumpsters, according to McCabe, and housing officials have consulted with Aspen police on spots to place surveillance cameras there. The city manager’s office wants to review the plan and make the final call, he said.

The housing authority manages five rental complexes. Last summer, five cameras were installed at Truscott Place Phase I – one at each of three Dumpster enclosures, one in the main laundry room and one in the front office – at a cost of $5,758.

The cost to dispose of trash dumped there illegally, often by people who don’t even live at Truscott, was considerable, McCabe said.

The areas with cameras aren’t monitored, but activity is recorded in the event there’s a need to review the footage, said Kai Ramsey, manager at Truscott I and II, as well as the Smuggler Mountain Apartments.

“I haven’t received any negative feedback to this point,” he said.

Once the cameras went in and signs went up to alert people to their presence, incidences of illegal dumping – items such as appliances, mattresses and furniture being left at the Dumpster sheds – pretty much ceased, as did problems with transients and vandalism in the laundry room, McCabe said.

“We’ve already witnessed moderate success,” he said.

Interested homeowner associations at privately owned complexes have inquired about the camera system, Ramsey added.

Though the update was merely an informational one for commissioners, Hatfield expressed his reservations with the installation of cameras.

“This is a civil rights issue. I just don’t like the idea of cameras in housing,” he said. “I will absolutely stand on the side of defending civil liberties.”

Commissioner George Newman, however, called the cameras a sign of the times, necessary not just to curb illegal dumping but also for the safety of residents.

“It’s not the best approach, but I think given the nature of where we are today, in today’s world … it’s warranted,” he said.

“It is in essence, Big Brother, but it’s only in common (areas) and it’s only to protect our assets,” Ramsey said.

It’s possible the housing office will pursue cameras at other apartment complexes, as well, according to McCabe.

janet@aspentimes.com


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