Basalt eyes hillside park | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt eyes hillside park

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Basalt officials have concentrated for the last decade on acquiring property for riverside parks. On Tuesday they plan to buy land they say will create a gem in the high country.The Town Council is expected to approve the purchase of 19 acres off of Pinon Drive for $475,000 at its meeting tonight, Town Manager Bill Efting said Monday. “It’s a piece of property the Town Council is very excited about.”The deal has been in the works for 1 1/2 years, he said.The site, which is covered with pinon and juniper, is sandwiched between the Basalt State Wildlife Area and Pinon Drive. It is close to the town’s water plant and storage tanks and is adjacent to a smaller parcel owned by the town.The seller is Barry P. Fletcher, who had it on the market for some time. Efting said private investors had a pending offer when the town first started sniffing around 18 months ago. But deals with the private sector fell through, so the town made an offer of its own after the availability was noted by a citizen.The town’s first bid was rejected for being too low, Efting said. Ongoing negotiations with Fletcher’s attorney, Rick Neiley of Aspen, eventually proved fruitful. Efting said he believes Fletcher lives outside the United States.The site would have been difficult to develop. The hilly terrain has only one or possibly two flat sites suitable for development. It doesn’t have water or sewer infrastructure. It is also below a transmission power line.But the site has awesome views of Mount Sopris and it overlooks Basalt. Efting said the plan is to turn the property into a “passive park” rather than one with ball fields and extensive playground equipment like at Arbaney Park. The site will also have trails, possibly with mountain biking opportunities.”It’s too early to tell, but that’s one of our intents,” he said.Mountain bikers were booted out of the state wildlife area roughly eight years ago. The Colorado Division of Wildlife started managing the vast wildlife area north of town more aggressively for wildlife. Officials said bikers and the trails they created were too great of a disturbance.This might salve some of that loss.Efting said this will be the first purchase made with a sales tax dedicated to open space, parks and trails projects. A 1 percent increase in the municipal tax was overwhelmingly approved by town residents last November.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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