Crown Mountain Park takes shape |

Crown Mountain Park takes shape

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Midvalley residents must exercise patience for one more year before their investment pays off in what’s shaping up as one of the grandest park and sports complexes in the valley.The Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District is adding everything from landscaping to playground equipment and sports fields this spring. The 50-acre heart of the property will take shape as the summer progresses.”This year is the frosting on the cake,” said Ross Stepp, the district’s executive director.Gauging the progress last summer was like watching traffic creep out of Aspen; nothing sexy was going on. The district had to concentrate on installing utilities and infrastructure.

Some midvalley residents have been getting impatient, even a bit testy, for something to show for their support of the park. Voters approved a property tax increase in 2002 that allowed the district to sell $5.13 million in bonds to pay for construction. A separate tax generates annual operating funds for the district.Designing and planning took up both 2003 and 2004. Infrastructure work started last summer.On a tour of the property this week, Stepp revealed the progress on the attention-grabbing amenities. Fencing surrounds a huge dog park. Surfaces for two tennis courts and one basketball court are in place. Sand covers two volleyball courts. Horseshoe pits are taking shape. A playground with a climbing rock is partially complete. A wide variety of deciduous and conifer trees are arriving at least weekly throughout this month. Two more soccer fields and one additional ball diamond will soon be seeded.Eagle County in 2001 built one soccer field and one ball diamond, which the park district maintains. They are in steady use.

“If they are any indication of the amount of use the park’s going to get, it’s going to be the center of the universe,” Stepp said.District officials have always been sensitive about the labeling of Crown Mountain strictly as a sports complex. They note that a fair amount of the facility will be for “park” uses as opposed to “sports” uses. Benches and landscaped areas are sprinkled throughout the property.Crown Mountain Park has a total of 80 acres to fiddle with. Of that, 50 acres will be “mowable” or, in other words, will have some type of active use like soccer or passive use like a picnic area, Stepp said. The other 30 acres will be a more natural open space where people can lounge around.The open space is south of the a one-mile cement trail loop poured last year.

To put the 50 acres in perspective, Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs is only 17 acres.As tempting as all the new amenities are for onlookers, district officials will do their best to keep people out of all areas except the existing soccer and ball fields this year. The ban is for safety since the park is still a construction zone, Stepp said. And the ground needs time to settle, and grass needs a chance to grow on the fields and other freshly seeded areas, he said.The park is expected to open to full public use in spring 2007.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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