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Fire protection district clears the air on plans

Willard L. Clapper

Just a quick note to help clear up some misconceptions that we are picking up from around town concerning the upcoming Fire District Bond Election.First: The fire protection district and the volunteer fire department have done their homework. This is a process that began nearly three years ago and has involved every local agency with any interest at all in our efforts. Our plan has been unanimously accepted by City Council (who ratified a new 40-year lease, by the way), the county commissioners, the COWOP, Citizens for the Welfare of the Public (who overwhelmingly support our plans to keep the main station where it now stands), and the Civic Center Master Plan Task Force (who also see us staying on Hopkins Avenue) – plus about 100 past firefighters and the ladies of the Thrift Shop!This is not a process we have taken lightly – it is one that focuses all of its efforts on the safety and welfare of Aspen and the fire protection district. We are a public entity and, as such, have taken into account the taxpayers, who we hope will support this effort, and the needs of Aspen and its fire district for the next 25 to 50 years!Second: the Zupancis property. At this point in time, it is not part of our plan. At one time we looked at it (and many other sites). Because of its cost to taxpayers and the district, it was dropped. At this time, it is not available as it is our understanding that the county and city are planning to build much needed office space there. The point is: The Zupancis property is no longer available.Third: the Isis Group. With the Z-property not available, the suggested offer being dangled by this group is not possible. They are a private investment group who had an idea that sounded good and would make them a ton of money (nothing wrong with that, I guess). We are a public entity and if we were to make available an investment opportunity to them, then it has to be open to all. We are far into the process of improving the firefighting and rescue response capability for Aspen. We do not have the five years or so it would take to go down this road. We are not taking shots at this group – it is just that their idea is neither possible, nor timely.Fourth, for those who believe it would be a good idea to have an ambulance available in town, this is one of the objectives of our plan. We are working with Aspen Ambulance to have an ambulance on site at the new Hopkins Station.Fifth: “Are we gonna lose the downtown station?” NO! Our main headquarters will be exactly where it is now, it will just be a whole lot better – and safer – and fun for you to visit. The North Forty Station will be a substation that will enhance our response to that burgeoning part of our district and the airport!Sixth: “What if I don’t like how it looks?” The design is not completed. We are going to take input as to how the front should look after we get the North Forty station under way. We are also counting on the ladies of the Thrift Shop to guide us in areas of taste. And yes, the Thrift Shop will be there bigger and better than ever. They are not going anywhere without us – nor vice versa.If you have any questions or concerns about what we are about, please contact Chief Darryl Grob (925-5532) or me (927-3502). We will gladly let you know what is happening. We really hope we can count on your vote. Willard L. Clapper is a lifelong local, a retired teacher and current chairman of the Aspen Fire Protection District Master Planning Committee. He lives in Basalt.


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