Carbondale reaches settlement on Roaring Fork ‘island’ property |

Carbondale reaches settlement on Roaring Fork ‘island’ property

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Town trustees agreed Tuesday to accept a settlement agreement clearing up a property line dispute along the Roaring Fork River northeast of Carbondale.

The deal will preserve public access for rafters and anglers to the majority of a 17-acre island property that was deeded to the town in the early 1980s.

The island, located about a mile upstream from the Highway 133 bridge, is not accessible by foot without going through private property, but can be reached by those floating the river.

As part of the deal, the town is required to post signs on the property and along the south bank of the river prohibiting hunting and the discharge of firearms.

In exchange, two property owners on the north side of the river will pay the town a total of $25,000, allowing them to take legal title to the disputed portions of the property.

The settlement agreement was reached July 18 through a court-ordered mediator who was appointed to work with the property owners, Tom and Beth Joiner and Michael Stahl, and town officials. The four trustees who were present at the regular Tuesday Town Board meeting unanimously approved the agreement.

An earlier plan for the town to sell the entire island parcel to the neighboring property owners for $100,000 was rejected by the town board on a 4-3 vote in April.

Several citizens, mostly recreational river users, had spoken out against that proposal. But some trustees saw it as a way to unload a piece of land that doesn’t have general public access, and use the money to pay for other town park improvements.

Two years ago, Stahl and the Joiners filed a lawsuit asking a judge to re-set the property boundary in their favor. Because of the clouded title, they had been unable to subdivide or sell their own properties.

To avoid further litigation costs, the town initially offered to sell its land to the plaintiffs. That deal would have preserved public floating rights along the river, but would not have allowed people to land on the island.

Most of the trustees, however, said it would be worth negotiating a settlement to keep the parcel in public hands. In the end, the $25,000 payment will roughly offset the town’s legal expenses.

Trustee John Foulkrod had promoted the previous settlement, viewing it as a way to put some money into the recently acquired Sopris RV Park property downstream. The town, with funding assistance from the Division of Parks and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado and Garfield County, purchased the property, which includes a popular boat launch on the Roaring Fork River, for $2.5 million.