Bond question on Woody Creek land purchase goes to Aspen voters
August 22, 2017
A $3 million bond question regarding the city's pending acquisition of some Woody Creek land to store water is headed to Aspen's electorate this November.
Aspen City Council agreed at a work session Monday that asking voters to approve the general obligation bonds is preferable to dipping into the city water fund to finance the purchase. The ballot question still awaits City Council's formal approval at its regular meeting set for next Monday.
City Manager Steve Barwick explained to the council that the city continues to do its due diligence, including legal and geo-technical investigation, on the pending $2.65 million purchase of 63 acres on Raceway Drive.
"I can tell you there hasn't been any significant findings that would leave you to believe that you can't do storage on this site," he said. "The actual amount (of water storage), we still don't have good estimates on that."
Voters could approve the bonds, but the city still could back out of the deal if it is not feasible, Barwick said.
In July the city, in response to public outcry over the potential that it could dam both Maroon and Castle creeks for water storage in the future, announced it had the property under contract to buy.
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Purchasing the Woody Creek land means the city would need to transfer its two conditional water rights in upper Castle and Maroon creeks. The transfer of those rights, which account for 13,629 acre-feet of water, would need the water court's approval.
Councilman Adam Frisch said the purchase sounds like a "slam dunk."
The matter came to council because the land acquisition was not under consideration when the city adopted its 2017 budget last year.
"I'm sorry to bring another financing question to you so quick, but that is the situation we are in," Finance Director Don Taylor said.