Solar panels come down, news boxes go back up
Several dozen solar panels on the roof of the Aspen post office will be removed and discarded this weekend, after the sun-powered energy system was deemed to be beyond repair.
And not long after the panels are removed, the newspaper boxes removed last winter will be replaced.
A crane and crew will begin dismantling the solar panels Friday and should complete the task sometime Sunday, according to Postmaster Bob Reinstra. The entire post office parking lot will be cordoned off Saturday night, beginning at about 7 p.m.
The five rows of approximately 20 solar panels each have never worked properly, Reinstra said, and the panels have been inoperable for the last three years. The post office now relies on gas and electric energy sources, he said.
“The Army Corps of Engineers was hired to determine what it would cost to get it up and running like new,” Reinstra said, “but the post office engineers from Denver decided it would be much better for us to remove the panels, especially after three years of not working.”
Reinstra said he didn’t know what the estimate had been to repair the solar energy system.
The newspaper boxes that were ordered removed by an interim postmaster in mid-February will be allowed to return in late August, Reinstra said, once a proper concrete slab is laid near the boardwalk.
“We had been meeting with the city about it and the way we agreed to resolve it was that we’d give the city an easement on a big chunk of land up by the boardwalk,” Reinstra said. “The city said that they would put a slab in and get everything set up for the boxes.”
That was some time ago, Reinstra added, “so a few weeks ago, I called Nick Adeh, the Aspen city engineer, and said, `What’s going on?’
“It’s funny, because the reason that they wanted to do it all along, was because they thought we’d take too long to do it.”
Reinstra said Adeh confirmed that the project would be completed by the end of August.
Reinstra joined the Aspen post office in January 1999 and was promoted to postmaster in late February.
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International visitors have traditionally accounted for 10 to 20 percent of Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits in recent past seasons. Travel fears and restrictions tied to the coronavirus are expected to wipe out most of that market for 2020-21.