After over a year of deliberation, Aspen City Council unanimously agreed on a minimalist redesign of Galena Plaza during a work session on Tuesday.
Galena Plaza sits on top of the city’s Rio Grande parking garage, which has leaks that are jeopardizing the building’s structure. Its redesign will take place in conjunction with garage repairs.
The final design includes about 4,000 square feet of green space, 12 parking spots for law enforcement vehicles along Library Alley and North Galena Street and two public spaces. Four parking space will also be added to the 400 block of Main Street in front of the Millennium Plaza building. Previous renditions of the plan, which were presented to council over the past year, were more complicated and included an elevator observation tower, a children’s play area, a grand stairway and fewer parking spaces.
The final design includes an observation area on the north side of the plaza, which overlooks Rio Grande Park and Red Mountain. The amenity will be phased in after the plaza is rebuilt, because there are plans to redevelop the one-story building, which houses the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA), that sits below, said Scott Miller, city capital asset director.
“When you add one floor to the ACRA building the idea would be that the roof of the second floor would align with the plaza,” Miller said.
Councilman Derek Johnson and Mayor Mick Ireland agreed that the proposed design responds to council’s past critiques. Councilman Adam Frisch suggested that law enforcement parking spots be angled consistently to provide a quick egress, which Miller said could easily be addressed. Overall, Frisch agreed with fellow councilmen and said the year’s worth of debate of the plaza’s redesign was worth the effort.
Councilman Torre said he stands by comments has made in opposition to parking spaces bordering Galena Plaza. Parking spots on North Galena Street should be moved to existing lots like on the north side of Main Street at Hunter Street, where the city’s parking department is located.
With the exception of the parking issue, the city has reached a good middle ground, Torre said.
Councilman Steve Skadron said people will likely ignore the proposed path around the plaza and cut through the large circular green space. Still, he supports the proposed plan, Skadron said.
Kent Hudson Reed, who runs a theater company that puts on Shakespeare plays in the plaza, said he would like to give input on specifics regarding seating and electrical outlets. Those things can be worked out later, he acknowledged.
“I think the devil’s in the details,” Reed said. “I think overall the plan’s come a long way.”
With the conceptual plan approved, the city will create a detailed design addressing costs. Construction on the garage likely won’t occur until 2014, according to Barry Crook, assistant city manager.
Also at the work session, the city approved a $5,000 grant request from the Aspen Science Center, which missed the deadline to apply for city dollars this year. The funds will help pay for a community science fair held at Paepcke Park on Aug. 11, according to Mike Simmons, chair of the nonprofit’s board. The center hosted its first fair last year and it was largely successful, which is why the organization is trying to grow the event this year, he said.
Council agreed that the fair is worth funding, but each member noted any more out-of-cycle requests should be systematically addressed in groups. Ireland suggested that happen on a quarterly basis. Simmons apologized for missing the deadline and said the organization wouldn’t let it happen again.