Droste a done deal | AspenTimes.com

Droste a done deal

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Local officials gathered at the Aspen Brewery Wednesday evening to toast the closing of the Droste open space purchase, though technicalities threatened to delay the transaction right up until the papers were signed.

Handwritten adjustments to the plats in the title office allowed Pitkin County to transfer $17 million to brothers Peter and Bruce Droste, securing 841 acres above the Brush Creek Valley outside of Snowmass Village.

“It was almost anticlimactic after working on the contract for six months,” said county Commissioner George Newman. As chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, he inked the paperwork for the county.

“It’s pretty neat we pulled it off,” said Aspen Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Woods, who admitted he was skeptical about the purchase until he stood on the property.

“You get up there – it’s wow,” he said.

The purchase secures land on the scenic ridge separating the Brush Creek and Owl Creek valleys. The parcel links to some 2,300 acres already purchased or conserved in the area and preserves a critical winter elk migration corridor.

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On an as-yet undetermined date next spring, the public is expected to get its first chance to hike, mountain bike and ride horses on the ridge. The area is closed for the winter to protect big game.

“What I’m looking forward to is taking the Elk Camp quad to the top and riding single track all the way to Highway 82,” said Snowmass Village Town Councilman John Wilkinson.

Snowmass Village voters agreed to put $2 million toward the purchase, and the city of Aspen will contribute $1 million from open space funds. Pitkin County, which fronted the entire purchase amount, intends to spend $10 million while a Great Outdoors Colorado grant will cover $2.5 million. Officials hope to raise the rest privately, with Aspen Valley Land Trust offering to match contributions, up to $250,000.

Given the economic climate, Wilkinson said he wasn’t sure his constituents would approve a tax to help fund the purchase.

“I was pleasantly shocked that the town voted for it,” he said.

Dale Will, county Open Space and Trails director, wasn’t sure by midafternoon that all of the outstanding details of the complex purchase could be resolved, telling Woods at 2 p.m. that it appeared the closing would be delayed.

“We were down to technicalities. This was one complicated closing file,” he said.

Will sent out a text after the deal went through: “We did it.”

Still to come is symbolic closing of the land deal – a livery of seisin, or transfer of possession, according to Tim McFlynn, chairman of the Open Space and Trails board of trustees.

Livery of seisin was the dominant method of transferring property centuries ago, before such transactions were recorded on paper. The seller would hand dirt or some other object representing the property to the buyer before witnesses, usually standing on the land itself.

“We’re going to do it. We agreed at the closing table,” McFlynn said.

The date for the event has not been set, but it will involve all the partners and other players in the purchase, he said.

janet@aspentimes.com