Letter: There are better places for city offices
November 19, 2014
There are better places for city offices
The city of Aspen is looking at the Rio Grande Building to serve as temporary offices for possibly the engineering department or planning department (presently in the old Armory Building), while the city plans a 70,000-square-foot building to house all of its offices in a new civic center. We feel that since this would be only temporary housing, that there are other city locations and sites in town which should be used before eliminating the current community uses in the Rio Grande Building.
The Rio Grande building has been a great community asset used over the years in an ongoing basis by small community nonprofits such as Aspen Community Social Dance, The Hudson Reed Theater Ensemble, Aspen Fringe Festival, Alcoholics Anonymous, Taster's restaurant, county commissioner meetings, workout sessions and private seminars, as well as private parties. This is the only asset in town for such community use!
Aspen City Council will be deciding whether or not to use the Rio Grande building as temporary offices for the soon-to-be-displaced engineering department/or the community development staff at City Hall presently in the old Armory Building on Galena.
We feel there are many other properties in town that the city owns where uses for temporary offices should be explored before City Council decides to remove the existing uses at the Rio Grande. Such temporary places are (much like Country Day School did when the new school was being built): the parking lot of the Red Brick building or playground of the Yellow Brick building set with temporary trailers for government employees. Better yet, use the unused newly constructed fire department next to Colorado Mountain College at the ABC, which has been standing empty now after taxpayers built it! And better yet, why not use, for the time-being, the old power plant, vacated by the Aspen Art Museum, for city offices and departments? This would save the taxpayers $300,000 to $600,000, according to Neil Siegel's letter in the Aspen Daily News on Nov. 15.
The Rio Grande building has been used by small nonprofits on a regular basis for over a decade now. This is not under-utilized public space for it is the only space for such public events and small nonprofits. At very least, City Council should not rush into giving up public space within the Rio Grande building without taking it to a public vote — even for temporary usage of government offices.
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