A high-profile murder trial, cramped meeting spaces, and inefficient public service are among a host of reasons Pitkin County Government is moving forward with plans to remodel its downtown facilities and construct a Public Safety/Administrative building on its downtown campus. A public lunch-tour (with food and refreshments along the way) of the facilities is planned for June 3rd to raise awareness about the need for improvements and to get feedback on how building design can improve public service.
“Our downtown facilities have reached their limits, especially when it comes to our public safety offices,” said Pitkin County Manager, Jon Peacock. “The courthouse can no longer accommodate the increasing judicial caseload while also accommodating the police and sheriff’s departments, the District Attorney, Assessor and Treasurer under one roof,” Peacock said.
Plans are to maintain the historic courthouse building for court-related business. The County has identified the need to remodel the Courthouse Plaza Building and construct an 18,000 square foot addition on what is now a parking lot behind the Courthouse Annex and the Jail. The additional square footage will accommodate the Sheriff's Department, additional public meeting space, and provide room to relocate the Assessor, Treasurer and Community Development departments.
“Our goal is to better serve the public by putting our downtown county offices under one roof. We believe this will make it easier for the public to find us and do business with us. We also need to ensure our public safety providers, including the Sheriff and District Attorney, have secure and efficient offices,” Peacock said.
During the recent high-profile Pfister murder the lobby of the courthouse was cordoned off with yellow crime tape to keep onlookers and the public doing business with the Assessor and Treasurer from having contact with grieving family members. Because of a lack of private interview rooms, suspects and friends and family were all in close contact.
“This really drove home the point that a better place to conduct law enforcement business was desperately needed,” said Pitkin County Sheriff, Joe DiSalvo. “It was a disservice to the Pfister family and the public, it posed serious security issues, and we found we couldn’t accommodate all the evidence in the case on-site,” DiSalvo said.
County-owned property behind the Courthouse Plaza will be used to construct the addition. It will include an enclosed, more secure pathway on which to walk inmates to court proceedings. It will also include private interview rooms, adequate evidence storage and offices for the District Attorney and Sheriff’s Department. The interior of the existing Courthouse Plaza will be significantly remodeled to offer a more welcoming entrance to the building, improved meeting rooms and additional, updated offices. Community Development, long housed in Aspen City Hall, and the Assessor and Treasurer will all be housed in the remodeled annex.
We anticipate that the consolidation of these offices will not only improve collaboration among county employees, it will make it easier and less confusing for the public to do business with us,” Peacock said.
The facilities tour on June 3rd runs from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Participants are asked to meet on the courthouse steps. Food and drink will be available along the tour.