Basalt wants parking kept off open space ‘gem’ | AspenTimes.com

Basalt wants parking kept off open space ‘gem’

The Basalt Town Council is supporting a recommendation to keep public parking off a midvalley open space parcel purchased for nearly $11 million.

The council voted 6-0 Tuesday night to endorse a steering committee's advice for Pitkin County to pursue parking at the intersection of Hooks Lane and Hook Spur Road. That required the council to overrule its own Parks, Open Space and Trails board, which wanted the parking located at the 282-acre Glassier Open Space.

The Glassier Open Space is really two ranches purchased for $10.9 million by Pitkin and Eagle counties, Basalt and Mid Valley Trails Committee along with grants from Great Outdoors Colorado. The neighboring ranches were purchased in 2013 and 2014.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is working on a management plan for the property, which many people consider "the gem of the midvalley." Basalt was asked for its input.

The property is located in the Emma area, at the base of federal land known as the Crown. Much of it was potato fields a generation ago and much remains irrigated pasture. A historic brick house remains on the property, which is roughly 3 miles from downtown Basalt.

A proposal for management of the Glassier Open Space was hammered out by a citizens' steering committee over nine months. Much of the land will be leased to farmers and ranchers and space will be reserved for a community garden. A multi-use, non-motorized trail will lead from the Rio Grande Trail to a network of routes in the Crown, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

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The governments also purchased the property for the aesthetic value of open space.

The preferred alternative of the county steering committee for parking is to negotiate with a landowner willing to sell property roughly one-quarter of a mile from the Glassier Open Space. The conceptual plan would create gravel parking for 34 vehicles and two horse trailers.

The Basalt Parks, Open Space and Trails Committee objected to spending more money on parking when "disturbed area" is already available and appropriate for parking at Glassier.

"Over $10 million has been spent on the purchase of the Glassier open space and we do not agree that additional funds should be used to purchase/lease more land for parking elsewhere," said a letter proposed by the committee.

In addition, the proposed letter from the town parks committee said requiring parking too far away from the open space would create a hardship for families trying to get young children to the trailhead.

The review of that letter by the Basalt Town Council triggered a ruckus attended by about 10 people Tuesday night. Ted Guy, a member of the county steering committee, said a lot of thought went into where to put parking. He said the town's parks and open space committee didn't understand all the issues that were considered. He urged the council to show faith in the people that dove into the issues on the county steering committee.

Rory Cerise, a rancher who currently leases some of the Glassier Open Space, said the decision to keep the parking off site was a practical decision, as well. A spot eyed on Glassier for parking is low-lying land that would have to be built up to keep it out of occasional groundwater, he said. It would probably cost more to develop parking there then buying land farther up the road, Cerise said.

The council endorsed the county steering committee's proposal and overruled the town parks and open space committee after a brief discussion. Councilman Gary Tennenbaum recussed himself because he is assistant direction of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.

Pitkin County is accepting public comment on the Glassier Open Space management plan and will start review Dec. 18.

scondon@aspentimes.com