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City considers park purchase

John Colson

Aspen’s taxpayers may be buying a “pocket park” at the western edge of the commercial core, at a price that could go as high as $3.5 million.

The city’s elected leaders went behind closed doors Monday night to talk about possibly buying Bass Park, located at the intersection of Monarch and Hopkins streets.

The park, which many believe is public property, actually belongs to the wealthy Bass family of Texas. The city has been paying for the upkeep of the land, and until recently was taking care of the estimated $6,000 annual property tax bill, as part of a lease agreement with the family. According to city officials, the payments ended recently when the property was ruled tax exempt as long as it remains a park.

Former Mayor Bill Stirling appeared at the regular City Council meeting Monday night, urging the city to buy the 18,000-square-foot park, which he said he saw listed in the MLS real estate listings recently.

“In the ’80s, we tried to get it every year,” Stirling said, referring to the eight years of his reign as mayor. But, he said, the owners did not wish to sell. He said at one point in the mid- to late-’80s, the city believed the land was appraised at $650,000.

“They wouldn’t sell it to us,” he said.

City Council members, before going into executive session to discuss the Bass Park purchase and negotiations related to the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing development, conceded that they have been negotiating with the Bass family’s attorneys.

Citing the fragility of the negotiations, council members and the mayor firmly rejected a reporter’s suggestion that the issue should be discussed in public.

In other action the council: Approved amendments to the city’s historic preservation procedures and regulations. Gave final approval to annexation of the Iselin/Rotary Park lands.


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