Pitco approves open space purchases | AspenTimes.com

Pitco approves open space purchases

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Pitkin County is poised to add to its open space holdings along the Crystal River and on Smuggler Mountain with a pair of purchases approved Wednesday by county commissioners.

Commissioners approved the $75,000 purchase of a 14-acre parcel along the Crystal River on first reading yesterday. A public hearing and, possibly, final approval, is scheduled May 14.

They also gave final approval to the $650,000 purchase of 20 acres on Smuggler Mountain – a cost the county expects to split with the city of Aspen. The Aspen City Council is scheduled to take up the Smuggler purchase on Monday.

The Crystal River land, currently owned by Kenneth Andrews, is part of a 47-acre parcel bisected by Highway 133, just south of the Crystal River Country estates.

The purchase preserves about 840 feet of riverbank on both sides of the Crystal and brings one more stretch of the scenic Crystal River valley, south of Carbondale, into public ownership. In addition to providing river access, the property constitutes one more potential link in the proposed Crystal River Valley Trail – a goal of the county’s Open Space and Trails Board.

“It’s a pretty neat open space, because it’s got a riparian forest – it’s got spruce growing right along the river,” said Dale Will, director of the county open space and trails program.

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“Eight hundred and forty feet of river is a very nice piece,” agreed Commissioner Shellie Roy.

The Open Space and Trails Board has recommended use of county open space funds for both the Andrews parcel and the Smuggler purchase.

The Smuggler property, owned by the Music Associates of Aspen, is a 20-acre parcel along Smuggler Mountain Road. It is comprised of the Axtel and Protection mining claims.

The acquisition is yet another step toward the city/county goal of preserving Smuggler Mountain’s private lands as open space, noted Will in a memo to the commissioners.

The city’s new Open Space Board voted April 2 to recommend the city split the cost with the county.

The MAA has agreed to sell the property for the same price the 20-acre Baldwin/Moses property on Smuggler fetched when it was acquired as open space.

The sale of a transferable development right from the MAA parcel could reduce the final purchase price.

In other action, county commissioners approved a settlement agreement with various Smuggler Mountain landowners that declares Smuggler Mountain Road – a popular route for bikers, hikers and backcountry skiers – as a public road.

Wednesday’s vote on the road agreement will be followed by a May 14 public hearing and a final approval of the resolution authorizing the settlement deal.

Smuggler rises up on Aspen’s northeast flank.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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