Aspen hospital redevelopment centers on housing
ASPEN, Colorado ” Aspen Valley Hospital’s proposal to triple its size has raised concerns for elected officials, who want the essential public facility to be realistic about housing employees, traffic impacts and its ability to provide quality care for decades to come.
During a review of the hospital’s conceptual master plan on Monday, Aspen City Council members voiced a host of concerns related to employee housing, how the facility is configured on the 19.1-acre site and what services it will provide to the community.
Hospital officials are proposing an additional 214,395 square feet at the Castle Creek site, which includes an underground parking garage and surface lot that would accommodate 339 spaces. The proposal includes a two-story addition and the expansion of the emergency and imaging departments, a surgical suite, central plant upgrades, as well as medical office space, patient and family services, and a rooftop heli-pad.
Mayor Mick Ireland said he’s worried that the hospital isn’t anticipating the needs of the community further than 20 years out, and as a result will have to expand elsewhere, possibly outside of the city.
He suggested hospital officials better utilize their available land and create a structure that allows for an additional floor in case it needs to expand in the future.
Monday’s public hearing centered mostly on employee housing, and council members agreed with the facility’s position that it should receive credits for the workers it already houses.
Hospital officials say they house the equivalent of 70.25 employees at the Beaumont Inn, the Mountain Oaks complex near the hospital and the home of CEO Dave Ressler. Seasonal employees are also housed downvalley in free-market units.
According to hospital calculations, it should receive credit for the equivalent of 65.65 employees, based on other development it has engaged in. Ireland said it’s reasonable that the hospital should receive credits but would like to see some housing on site as a way to offset traffic impacts.
Councilman Jack Johnson took issue with how the numbers of employees being housed are calculated. He pointed to Ressler’s residence as providing the equivalent of 3.5 hospital workers yet he is the only employee living there.
“I think we need to talk about what actually is,” he said. “We know what’s there, and that is what we should be dealing with.”
He also suggested the hospital should be housing all of its employees, as well as providing senior citizen care and a detoxification center as part of its master plan. If that occurs, Johnson said he could support the redevelopment plan.
Ressler said he has heard the feedback from council on taking a leadership role in providing community services. He said designers will change the plan to address those concerns.
Hospital officials will go before the council on Feb. 9 and Feb. 23 to discuss transportation, as well as impacts that the proposed parking garage will have and a host of other issues.