Citizens applaud Droste dealings |

Citizens applaud Droste dealings

In the three-year courtship between the Droste family and the Town of Snowmass Village, Thursday’s community meeting was the part where the minister asks observers to speak now or forever hold their peace.

To say no one objected would be an understatement. Those assembled would have handed Town Council members the pen with which to sign the dotted line then and there had it been possible.

Several weeks ago, Mayor T. Michael Manchester and Peter and Bruce Droste signed a contract for the town to purchase a 500-acre conservation easement for $7.5 million, contingent on council approval.

The official council vote will take place on Monday, but yesterday’s meeting was convened to let town residents speak their minds on the terms of the contract. They were clearly pleased with the deal to preserve a large piece of the scenic Brush Creek Valley just outside of town.

“I think this is just terrific,” said resident Bill Burwell. “It gave Droste what he needed . and it gave the town its view corridor. It’s a good deal for the town and a very good deal for Droste.”

“It goes a long way,” agreed Joe Wells, who represents the interests of Droste’s neighbor, 7 Star Ranch.

The terms of the contract with the Droste family may have come up short of the town’s initial hope to purchase all 807 acres of the ranch, but no one was complaining yesterday.

“From my point of view, we’re 80 percent there and I’ll take 80 percent anytime,” said Jim Hooker, former Snowmass Village mayor.

Aside from preservation of the view corridor and wildlife habitat, the town gains a recreational trail across the property as part of the deal.

Already looking beyond next week’s council vote, residents wanted to know if a continuous trail system could be established from the existing town system to Highway 82. The answer was a “conditional yes” from the mayor.

Standing in the way are three privately held segments of land and a county conservation easement. The private landowners haven’t formally been approached, but at Thursday’s meeting two of the key players appeared open to the idea.

According to Pitkin County Commissioner Leslie Lamont, an easement for a paved trail already exists on the county parcel and Wells indicated that 7 Star “would be happy to provide one if we ever get final approval.”

Snowmass Village voters approved $7.1 million in borrowing last fall to be spent on preserving all or some of the Droste property.

“One of the greatest things about tonight was the feeling that people are really behind us. This was the public’s opportunity to disagree and there wasn’t a single dissent,” said Councilman Mark Brady.

“Unless something completely unforeseen happens in the next two days, I expect this will pass on Monday and we’ll close on the first of December,” Manchester added.

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