City, county set to buy open space on Smuggler
Another piece of undeveloped Smuggler Mountain land may soon become public property.This afternoon, the Pitkin County Commissioners will consider the purchase, in partnership with the city of Aspen, of a 37-acre parcel that includes much of the face of Smuggler. The Aspen City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement with Pitkin County last night, formalizing the funding arrangement between the two bodies.The property, owned by Chicago-area resident Mickie Flanigan, borders the Harley Baldwin mining claims, the Little Maud and the B&M, now under contract to be acquired by the county’s Open Space and Trails program. Smuggler Road passes through the Flanigan parcel both above and below the Smuggler observation deck, which is on the B&M claim.According to a county memo, Flanigan has offered the parcel to the city and county for half its reported appraised value of $2.5 million. She has proposed giving the remaining value of the property to the county as a charitable contribution.Terry Paulson, City Council member and acting mayor, asked Flanigan’s attorney to pass on the council’s appreciation to her.”Every time I see this happen, I get a little more refreshed that not everybody in this town is out to make a whole bunch of money,” Paulson said.When the chance to purchase the parcel surfaced, said Open Space and Trails director Dale Will, it went straight to the top of the wish list.”It’s sort of a no-brainer, from the open space point of view,” Will said.The Open Space and Trails Board of Trustees voted Oct. 5 to recommend that the county commissioners authorize spending the county’s $630,000 share of the purchase price. The commissioners must make the final decision on expenditure of open space funds.The property contained one site, and perhaps two, suitable for development, an aspect that will be eliminated by the purchase. Except for the road, the property is undeveloped, said Open Space program coordinator Jen Pierce.The two governments have agreed to create a management plan for the property once the sale is final. Management will focus on conservation, wildlife habitat and the possible construction of recreational trails, said City Manager Steve Barwick.The city of Aspen’s participation in the purchase depends on whether Aspen voters approve referendum 2B, a proposed one-half cent sales tax increase for open space purchases, on the Nov. 7 ballot. The purpose of the ballot issue is to provide a funding mechanism to purchase open space within and adjacent to the city.”This is a real good example of the type of property it’s aimed at,” Barwick said. The city expects to collect $2 million per year from the tax, he said.The county has left itself an option to purchase 100 percent of the property if the city’s tax proposal is defeated, but the additional expenditure would require additional approvals by the Open Space board and the commissioners.Several mining claims, some whole and some partial, make up the property. They are: the Alma, the Arkansas, the Ballarat, the Chatfield, the Fossil, the General Jackson and the Glendale. Flanigan got the property when she was forced to foreclose on a loan to George M. “Wilk” Wilkinson perhaps 15 years ago, Will said.The purchase would bring public holdings on the face of Smuggler up to 57 acres, Will said, combined with the Baldwin claims. Wilkinson is said to hold about 240 acres on the mountain.The commissioners’ final vote to release Open Space and Trails money for the purchase will be after a public hearing Oct. 25.
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