County, Basalt to back tree farm rec facilities |

County, Basalt to back tree farm rec facilities

After years of delays and even fights over construction of athletic fields and recreational facilities at the Sopris Tree Farm, a new pact assures something will be built next spring.

Elected officials from Eagle County and the town of Basalt reached an agreement last week to fund construction of facilities in 2001, according to the managers of the two governments.

The county commissioners and Town Council members pledged seed money for the first of the facilities contemplated at the tree farm, according to Basalt town administrator Tom Baker. The idea is to create some recreational opportunities on the public land now rather than wait at least one year and probably longer until a special district is established to build and maintain the full-blown recreational plan.

“They wanted to do something over one to three years until a special district is set up,” said Baker. “They wanted to bridge that gap.”

About 125 acres at the former U.S. Forest Service tree farm was acquired in the mid-1990s by Eagle and Pitkin counties in a land trade with the federal government. The land is located between the El Jebel Amoco station and the Roaring Fork River.

Little has been done with the property since the swap because factions of politicians and citizens have bickered over future use. A plan was finally hammered out last year, and an application for that proposal is being reviewed.

However, funding has always been an issue. Eagle County has insisted up until now that it won’t fund recreational amenities. Basalt has said it didn’t have the funds to create and maintain facilities.

The intergovernmental agreement will determine who pays what share and how the facilities get maintained, Baker said.

Eagle County administrator Jack Ingstad said the new pact represents a greater level of cooperation between the two governments.

“It’s a different time and different relationship,” he said. “The two boards are working very well together.”

Ingstad said officials of both governments agreed in a recent meeting that providing some facilities, however modest, may prove to people what a great amenity the tree farm could be with athletic fields and other recreational facilities.

While details of the pact must still be worked out, Baker interpreted the discussion to mean the two governments will find funding for two athletic fields and possibly four.

Any construction of soccer or ball fields must be consistent with a blueprint that citizens have approved for the tree farm.

Two fields or even four would represent a fraction of the recreational amenities contemplated at the site.

The need for local funds to grade and level the ground for athletic fields may be eased if the governments receive a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.

They applied for $144,000 to create two soccer and two ball fields and pledged matching local funds. GoCo grants will be announced in December.

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