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Crown Mountain Park plan open for public review

Aspen Times Staff Report

Midvalley residents can weigh in one final time Thursday on plans to convert the old Mount Sopris Tree Farm into the Crown Mountain Park.

The recreation district’s elected board of directors has worked since January to refine a development proposal that was approved with the land-use plan for the property in 2001.

Now the board wants the public to review that plan before it moves ahead with construction.

“This isn’t a step we need to do. It’s a step we want to do,” said Laurie Soliday, chairwoman of the district board. “We want ownership by the community.”

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Eagle County Building in El Jebel.

Last November voters approved issuing $5.1 million in bonds to raise the funds necessary to develop the recreational center in El Jebel. The plan for the property includes two soccer fields; two baseball fields; tennis, basketball and volleyball courts; playgrounds; a dog park; picnic and lawn areas; and a skateboard park.

The board isn’t reopening debate about what should be built at the tree farm. “This has been through the wringer,” said Soliday. Instead the board is debating in what order the amenities should be built.

Soliday said the cost of building everything on the community’s “wish list” would be about $13 million – more than twice what’s available. So the board is trying to decide what steps make the most fiscal sense to take first, she said.

The work this summer won’t necessarily be glamorous. Much of the infrastructure must be completed first. Once items like earth grading and irrigation are completed, the district can concentrate on amenities that the public can use.

This year’s preliminary budget calls for about $1.75 million in infrastructure improvements. Next year’s budget is heavy on construction of amenities, such as ball courts and a skateboard park.

Mark Fuller, interim director for the district, said he remains hopeful that construction of some amenities can be completed this summer. He is more optimistic than the preliminary budget reflects.

Eagle County has already funded construction of one soccer field and one ball field. They will likely be available for play by fall.

Soliday said that after this public meeting is held, the board’s next high-priority goal is to hire a director. A national search will be undertaken, she said.


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