City to protect more of Smuggler Mtn.
The Aspen City Council is expected to approve a $3.4 million deal today to buy a landowner’s Smuggler Mountain land and preserve the acreage as open space.Pending approval, the deal will follow the landmark purchase by the city and Pitkin County of George “Wilk” Wilkinson’s 170 acres on Smuggler Mountain in December. The purchase of Tulasi Wilkinson’s two parcels, which total 24 acres, took about 13 months to complete. Tulasi Wilkinson is Wilk’s ex-wife.The current agreement is a “significant purchase,” said Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud.”Smuggler is extremely important. We have Smuggler Mountain on one side [and] Shadow Mountain on the other. It’s not only visually significant and important to Aspen, but [also] recreationally and in terms of open space values,” she said. “These parcels are on the face, so they’re visible from town.”Smuggler Mountain, which provides access to the scenic Hunter Creek Valley, is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and those looking to get in a noontime walk.The city had been interested in obtaining Tulasi Wilkinson’s parcels “for some time,” Klanderud said. “When we purchased Wilk’s holdings, we announced at the time that the city would be pursuing other parcels.”The wrangling over the land goes back years. In February 2005, Tulasi Wilkinson and Smuggler Ridge Associates approached the county to build a 8,250-square-foot home on a seven-acre parcel. The previous year, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in Tulasi Wilkinson’s favor in a fight over the sale of three mining claims on Smuggler Mountain.In a 2004 guest column in The Aspen Times, Tulasi Wilkinson said she has “gone hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt” during “18 years of constant denials.”There might be a few details in the contract that have changed and will have to be under discussion today, Klanderud said. She didn’t think the changes would affect the acreage or the purchase price.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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