C’dale mulls future of ‘county island’ | AspenTimes.com

C’dale mulls future of ‘county island’

Gina Guarascio
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” Carbondale trustees indicated general support Tuesday for a possible development in an area known as the “county island.”

The land is located adjacent to River Valley Ranch and across from the Highway 133 and Weant Boulevard intersection. It is currently located in an unincorporated area of Garfield County, although it is surrounded by the town of Carbondale.

The preliminary proposal will have to go through the annexation process as well as a formal land use process with the Planning and Zoning Commission before the trustees will make any binding decisions.

Potential developer Frieda Wallison said she wanted to get some idea whether the trustees liked her proposal before committing to the formal process.

Wallison had purchased approximately three acres within the island called Cerise Park and was going through the approval process for a residential development there. During the discussions, trustees asked if there was a way to look more comprehensively at the entire “island” area to make more logical road and infrastructure connections.

Wallison has put an additional seven acres under contract from the Thompson family and is looking at a much larger development within the island, now called Thompson Park. The entire development would be larger than 10 acres, including Cerise Park. The Cerise Park parcel is near the planned Keator Grove development, which is being held up due to financing issues.

The Thompsons, four siblings, are heirs of some of the original settlers in Carbondale. They sold about 800 acres to the developer of River Valley Ranch over a decade ago. At one time, their family owned a majority of what is now Carbondale, said Lew Ron Thompson, who will continue to live on one parcel within the county island in the cabin he was born in.

Wallison’s purchase will include a little less than one acre containing the historic Thompson House. The home has been preserved and includes contents from the turn of the century. Wallison wanted some indication from the trustees whether the town would be interested in taking the home and grounds as part of the open space requirement for her development. The area could be opened up to the public as an interpretive historic site, she said.

“The idea is to deed it over to the town if the town will accept it,” Wallison said. “Many of you have been into that house; it’s a gem. It seems like it’s crying out for use. That’s very much part of the plan.”

Trustees showed general support for the idea, but had some reservations about maintaining the house. Wallison also presented the idea of developing a “regulating plan” to present to the Planning and Zoning Commission and to the trustees for the annexation process.

That plan would outline the general rules and regulations for development of the property, such as water rights, affordable housing requirements and infrastructure, as well as road connections, but would leave the area open for phased development. Each phase would then go through a more detailed development review process with the town.

Wallison didn’t indicate a timeline for pursuing the annexation and development proposals but said she is anxious to get started.

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