Drostes, council relishing open space agreement | AspenTimes.com

Drostes, council relishing open space agreement

While still relishing the sweet smell of success, the Droste family appears ready to save a few hundred more acres of open space.

On Tuesday, the Droste family and representatives for Snowmass Village agreed to terms that could preserve 500 acres of the Brush Creek Valley at the entrance to town.

The full Snowmass Village council will vote on the $7.5 million conservation-easement contract after a public meeting. In the meantime, Peter Droste invites proposals to convert an additional 300 acres into permanent open space.

There are no deals in the works right now, but the family is “certainly open to offers,” Droste said.

The Drostes’ property above the valley floor is estimated to be worth about $17.6 million, or $2.2 million for each 35-acre lot.

The $17.6 million figure is what the land is worth “today,” Droste said, before a road accessing the lots is even constructed. After a road materializes “God only knows” what the market will hold, Droste said.

But for the time being the family’s attention will be focused on doing what they can to see that the valley floor becomes an easement. They’re also planning to take a little time off to savor the preliminary victory of coming to an agreement with the town after a long, bumpy negotiation process.

“We’re going to bask in this a while,” said Droste, before starting an approval process with the county to build a road to access the upper portion of their property.

“This is forever. It comes as a great relief to us,” said Droste. “We would look around and see everything around us being cut up into pieces. Someone had to step up and protect what was left. And that’s what’s happened.”

As for the town, Wednesday was a day for council members to receive a few hard-earned pats on the back for making good on an initiative passed by residents last November to save all or part of the Droste ranch.

“People were coming up to me all day very excited about how this all came together. I’ve gotten great feedback, and so far, no one’s called to say how crazy I am,” said Mayor T. Michael Manchester. “A lot of people seem very satisfied and excited about this.”

Town Councilman Doug Mercatoris, restaurant proprietor at the Mountain Dragon, also took in compliments.

“I think one of the nicest things a constituent said today was, `If this is the only thing the council does for the rest of its term, it would be a wonderful legacy to the town,'” Mercatoris said.

In regard to the possibility of preserving even more open space on the Droste property, Manchester has already given it some thought.

“At this point a lot depends on the level of support we get from the open space and trails board. If we have money left over, maybe we could reduce the amount of development on top or increase the wildlife migration corridor. I’d love to see that happen,” Manchester said.

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