Eagle open-space deal falls through | AspenTimes.com

Eagle open-space deal falls through

Pam Boyd
Eagle County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Eagle has been unable to find the money to buy open space near the "Green Bridge" east of town. (Pam Boyd/Eagle Valley Enterprise)

EAGLE ” A land deal that would have provided public access to a stretch of the Eagle River east of town has collapsed.

A couple of months ago, the town of Eagle and Eagle County informally agreed to partner up to purchase the “Green Bridge property” ” 35 acres along the river east of town.

The purchase price was $5 million, and the town agreed to appropriate $1 million contingent on the county picking up the rest of the tab. Last week, however, the deal fell apart.

“The open space advisory committee took a look at it and said they could consider contributing $2 million toward the purchase,” County Commissioner Sara Fisher said.

That left the deal $2 million short.

The county hoped to attract other funding sources for the purchase, but the deal was on a fast track, and the county was unable to find partners within the time constraints, Fisher said.

Eagle is looking for another partner for the deal and watching the clock. The deadline to purchase the land for open space is Aug. 15.

The parcel, which includes both sides of the river, is owned by Vail businessman Merv Lapin. The river property is adjacent to the town boundary.

Developer Matt Dietz holds an option on the land, and had been contemplating a residential development. Dietz agreed to negotiate for an open space deal with the town and the county, but set the deadline for the effort.

Initially, the county commissioners were eager to move forward with the purchase.

“I think this could trigger the protection of all the lands along the river east of Eagle. I’m 110 percent behind this,” Commissioner Arn Menconi said of the proposal in April.

Since that time, however, county officials have been less enthused with the deal.

Fisher said a significant amount of the land involved is on the south side of the river, and is virtually inaccessible because of steep slopes. And, she noted, as the county thought about the deal further, the commissioners decided the land wasn’t at risk for dense development.