Construction resumes in Snowmass under site-specific COVID-19 safety plans
Snowmass Village grew a little livelier April 27 and 28 after roughly 60 construction sites were approved to start up again so long as approved COVID-19 social distancing and hygiene measures are in place.
The town’s community development department worked through the weekend to evaluate each site’s COVID-19 safety plans submitted for continued work, ensuring Snowmass construction started back up in a way that would help the local economy and mitigate the spread of coronavirus as much as possible.
“This is concerning for all of us. No one wants to be sick and no one wants to get sick, but we know it will happen regardless,” said Julie Ann Woods, Snowmass community development director, referring to the expected increase in COVID-19 cases as a result of restarting construction projects in Snowmass and Pitkin County.
“If we can pace things through the site safety plans and are all aware of the potential impacts going in, hopefully we can keep things under control and not overwhelm our hospitals and health care workers.”
At the Pitkin County Board of Health meeting April 16, board members and health officials determined construction projects with a submitted and approved “COVID-19 Site Safety Plan” were permitted to operate, as previously reported. Landscaping companies with a determined COVID-19 business safety plan also were allowed to operate, but not required to have their plans approved before doing so.
Starting April 23, existing construction sites forced to shut down as a result of the county’s stay-at-home public health order were allowed to submit their site safety plans to the respective municipality they were working in, or unincorporated Pitkin County if relevant, for approval.
Some of the safety plan requirements include designating a project specific public health safety officer, implementation of and education on strict hygiene and social distancing measures, limiting work team interactions and team size when possible and daily monitoring and reporting of employee health, including temperature checks and COVID-19 symptom screenings, according to county public health documents.
In Snowmass Village, 56 site safety plans had received approval as of April 27 and four were within the town’s approval process through the community development department.
Woods said the department created a workflow to efficiently and effectively go through each application — moving from permit checking, to plan evaluation and feedback by building officials and town planners, to Woods for final review — which she feels has worked out pretty well so far. She also said that developers and contractors applying for new building permits through the town also will have to submit a COVID-19 site safety plan moving forward until public health officials advise otherwise. Construction officials must display their approved plans onsite and Snowmass police will help ensure all construction in town is approved and conducted according to the COVID-19 safety guidelines in place, Woods said.
“We’ve definitely had some glitches we’ve worked through, but its gone pretty well,” Woods said of approving town construction sites’ COVID-19 safety plans. “We’ve never done anything like this before so it’s all new to us but I’m really pleased we were able to get through as many site plans as we did. … Construction has always been a big part of our local economy and it’s important to get people safely back to work.”
Greg Woods, president and founder of G.F. Woods Construction, said he has been very impressed with the approval turnaround time in Snowmass, Aspen and Pitkin County. He is not related to Julie Ann Woods.
Greg said April 28 that all seven of his site safety plans submitted had been approved, including three sites in Snowmass Village. He said about one third of the year-round work his company does is in Snowmass, and that his teams were all eager to get back to work this week.
Greg feels construction is a good place to start when it comes to easing out of the county’s stay-at-home public health order, as it is an industry that already operates under heightened safety requirements.
He also said his staff has been cognizant and more than happy to abide by all of the safety plan requirements, which were not too difficult to put in place, and determined to do its part in helping the local economy safely get back on its feet.
“Construction gives a good read on the local pulse of the economy. If you see dump trucks going up and down (Highway) 82 the economy is probably doing OK, if you don’t see that it’s probably the antithesis,” Greg said.
“I think the county is taking some really good first steps to easing back into things. Really in a nutshell we’re all eager to get back to work and get our economy moving again and will do our part to adhere strictly to all the safety requirements to help make that happen.”
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