Voters in Aspen, Colorado may get the final say on a plan to build a 37,500 square-foot building designed to consolidate that city’s administrative offices.
City leaders have said that they want to renovate office space in the existing Aspen City Hall at 130 S. Galena Street, inside the historic 1890s Armory Building, while putting up an entirely new two-story structure elsewhere.
That new building will uniquely be an expansion of an existing structure at 425 Rio Grande Place, adding 15,000 square feet of lobby and storage space, along with 15,000 square feet of new office space, and meeting space measuring almost 4,000 square feet.
But the combined $22 million expansion and renovation project has been challenged in the Ninth Judicial District Court in a citizen-initiated lawsuit filed last spring contending that the voters of Aspen should have had a say in the matter through the means of a referendum.
Earlier this year, Judge John Neiley agreed that Aspen’s plans for the expansion and upgrading of the building at 425 Rio Grande Place was indeed subject to a citizen referendum.
The Judge also allowed Aspen residents Steven Goldenberg and Marcia Goshorn to collect a minimum of 640 names on a petition calling for that referendum.
Although more than 700 signatures were eventually submitted, the Aspen City Clerk’s office determined that some 146 of those names were invalid because certain required information accompanying those signatures was omitted.
The City of Aspen has now moved to put the matter to an end, filing suit, also in the Ninth District Court, asking that the petition be ruled as inadmissible because it falls short of the required number of signatures.
It is not known when Neiley will make a ruling on this latest petition in the ongoing battle. Aspen officials, perhaps because of the negative publicity that has resulted from the legal challenge, have indicated that if the project ends up as a ballot question, it will most likely be defeated.
By Garry Boulard
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