Mountain Rescue Aspen, the badass volunteer backcountry rescue operation that has been saving stranded hikers, skiers, and others for decades, is facing a delay in construction of its new facility across from the airport since the former owner began deconstructing one of his buildings without a permit. The site was formerly home to Planted Earth Garden Center and the former owner had permission to tear down a greenhouse on the property but not the additional building, but commissioners don't think that will keep Mountain Rescue from getting approval for their proposed 13,500 square foot command center, which they hope to move to from the tiny Main Street house they've been occupying since 1965. The lack of space has meant that their gear has been stashed "literally all over the county," according to their director of operations. The new building will allow for Mountain Rescue to stage all their gear and crews in one place while providing easy access to the Aspen Airport in case of aerial rescues and also act as an emergency operations center for multiple agencies in the event of a large event like a wildfire.
A trust for Mountain Rescue bought the property for $1.6 million after receiving $1.5 million in 2011 from Lynda Cameron, an Oklahoma resident who was was rescued by an MRA team after her father's plane crash in a November snowstorm in Capitol Creek Valley in 1977. Her father died in the crash, while her mother, brother, and pilot were also rescued.
Construction is slated to cost $2.5 million, and includes a 45-foot tower for crews to practice rope and mountain climbing skills on that has drawn some ire from commissioners for being too "eye-catching" for motorists on Highway 82. Other commissioners fairly pointed out that the private jets at the airport and the action in the Buttermilk superpipe, both easily visible from the road, are just as much of a distraction.
· Commissioners scrutinize Mountain Rescue Aspen facility plan [Aspen Times]
· Mountain Rescue Aspen unveils design for new headquarters [Aspen Daily News]
· Aspen Mountain Rescue [Charles Cunniffe Architects]