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Posted on: June 28, 2019

City Community Development Director Accepts New Position at Design Workshop

Press Release

City Community Development Director Accepts New Position at Design Workshop


Contact: Jessica Garrow. Community Development Director, 970-429-2780, Jessica.garrow@cityofaspen.com or Sara Ott, Interim City Manager, 970-920-5083, sara.ott@cityofaspen.com

Aspen, Colorado – June 28, 2019 – The City of Aspen’s Community Development Director, Jessica Garrow, has accepted a new position as a senior level planner for Aspen based Design Workshop.  After working for the City of Aspen for 13 years, Garrow is taking on a new challenge that will offer her opportunities to work on planning projects for locations across the country, expand her skill set, and grow in her profession in new ways.  

“For the last 13 years, Jessica has served Aspen with professionalism and unwavering dedication,” said Sara Ott, Interim City Manager.  “Our community is in a better place than they were over a decade ago because of Jessica’s hard work on the Aspen Area Community Plan, code updates, small lodge preservation program, and more.  We are sad to see her go but as an organization we respect our employee’s professional growth.”

During Garrow’s tenure, first as a planner, then as long-range planner, and then serving as the director since 2016, the City of Aspen has achieved improvements in its built, social, and economic environment because of her expertise and commitment.

Garrow led the latest update of the Aspen Area Community Plan, which engaged a broad segment of the community and was the first plan to include a chapter on the “Lifelong Aspenite”, offering a focus on the social capital we build by recognizing what our residents need to thrive throughout their lives.

“I’m so proud of my work with the AACP,’ Garrow said.  “We won three state awards and one national award for that planning process, which stressed inclusiveness with the residents.  The real reward, however, is seeing its policies in action, honoring and implementing community values about who we aspire to be and how we want to live in Aspen.”

Over a twelve-month intensive process, Garrow led a code amendment initiative that brought the City’s land use code in better alignment with the AACP.  Through that effort, Aspen has increased mitigation requirements, updated parking standards, improved view plane regulations, increased pedestrian amenity requirements, and added requirements to provide second tier commercial spaces.  That process included broad community input and set up the Council, under Garrow’s leadership, to create code changes with significant impact.

Garrow also led efforts to create the small lodge preservation program, which focused on retaining long time small lodges, an essential component of Aspen’s character.  She oversaw the adoption of the transportation impact system with several other City departments, which has reduced the impacts of vehicle trips generated by development, furthering the City’s goals of air quality improvement, reduction of greenhouse gases, and getting more vehicles off the roads.

“It’s bittersweet to be leaving the City of Aspen,” Garrow said.  “I have loved my time working for the community and with the amazing people at City Hall.  I’ve enjoyed helping to guide planning practices that preserve our way of life and character as well as working to keep Aspen progressive and economically attractive to residents, businesses, and tourists.  I hope I have made a positive impact on this City and community that I love.”

In the past year, Garrow has brought building and planning together in City Hall, which offers customers better service and aligns the community development department better with its mission.  Working with the public, internal departments, and customers, Garrow has improved the City’s permit system to be more efficient for customers and staff and has empowered her team to implement positive change from the inside out.

“I am always striving to learn and grow and expand my professional expertise.  This opportunity to work for Design Workshop was one I couldn’t pass up.  I’m a career planner and recognize that jobs like these are rare,” Garrow said.  “I am so glad that I will continue to be a part of our community while also striving toward new professional goals.”

Garrow’s last day with the City is July 31.  Deputy Planning Director, Jennifer Phelan, will serve as the Interim Community Development Director.  The City will undertake a nationwide search for the next director.
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