City of Aspen assistant manager placed on adminstrative leave

Assistant City Manager Barry Crook has been placed on administrative leave, according to sources within City Hall.

Crook, who resigned Friday after a tumultuous week of Aspen government politics, was in his office at City Hall in the morning, but by the afternoon, he was gone.

His email account has an automatic reply that reads, “I am out of the office and not available to take your calls. If you need assistance please contact Rebecca Hodgson at 970-920-5212.”

City Manager Steve Barwick, Crook’s supervisor, directed questions Tuesday night to Assistant City Manager Sara Ott.

Ott sent an email a half-hour later with Barwick’s official statement, which reads, “On Tuesday, December 18, I placed Assistant City Manager Barry Crook on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation related to a personnel matter. There is no current time frame for this investigation, however, for the best interest of our community and the city of Aspen organization, I will work steadily toward a quick and thorough conclusion to this investigation.”

Crook did not return voicemail or text messages.

It’s unclear how a city employee can resign and be put on paid administrative leave. Crook said on Monday via email that his departure date would be up to Barwick.

Prior to Ott’s email, Barwick offered few details except to say it’s a personnel matter, he is on vacation until Jan. 2 and “I don’t have a press release for that.”

Crook resigned from his position he’s held for 13 years Friday, saying he was no longer an effective voice on council after two public-private partnerships worth millions of dollars that he was in charge of fell apart

On Monday, Aspen City Council put off an $800,000 contract with Lyft for transit services as part of its multi-million dollar mobility lab that is scheduled launch in June. It’s aimed at taking as many as 800 vehicles off Highway 82 every day through government-subsidized incentives.

Taxi and limo drivers and bike shop owners told council in over two hours of public comment Dec. 10 that they were blind-sided with the city’s newfound relationship with the California-based company that would compete with them for business.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Crook was overheard after a public meeting calling board members from the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority “mother-f—ing extortionists.”

That comment was in response to the all-volunteer citizen board requesting earlier that day that the organization receive a stipend for the organization being asked to absorb administrative costs related to three affordable-housing developments that the city is partnering with developer, Aspen Housing Partners LLC.

Over the weekend, a deal was developed for APCHA to receive $410,000, which could end up out of city taxpayer coffers, to help offset the costs with qualifying tenants for the 45 new rental units on three properties the city owns, as well as managing the deed restrictions on those apartments and offering up the organization’s nonprofit tax-exempt status so the projects can receive financial benefits through APCHA being a minority partner.

The APCHA board meets at 12:30 p.m. today in the basement of City Hall where it will be contemplating whether to agree to be an operating partner with the city and the developer for the $410,000 ask, or another offer that was put forward Tuesday by the City Manager’s Office for $150,000, which was discussed over lunch with Barwick and APCHA Chairman Ron Erickson and Vice Chairman Rick Head, according to sources.