Guard to patrol lift at Five Trees |

Guard to patrol lift at Five Trees

Brent Gardner-Smith

When many American kids go to school, they now pass by a uniformed security guard. When kids in Aspen go to get on the new $1 million chairlift across the street from their school, they will now pass by a uniformed security guard.

The uniformed guard will be posted at the bottom of the new Five Trees chairlift, which began operation Saturday. The lift is now owned and controlled by the Five Trees Metropolitan District, the governing body for a subdivision near the base of the Aspen Highlands Ski Area.

“They will be typical uniformed guards,” said Gary Beach, the manager of the Five Trees Metro District. “They will be very nice and very gentlemanly checking passes.”

The security guard will be checking for specially-issued Five Trees neighborhood medallions or season passes with either ski club or school district labels.

The metro district recently worked out the details of owning and operating the fixed-grip lift, which rises from just outside the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s new clubhouse to the top of Powder Bowl at Highlands, about an eight-minute ride.

Both the ski club building and the lift are just across the street from Aspen’s high school, middle school and elementary school. There are no public ski trails from Highlands back to the base of the lift – just one trail under the lift line that allows return access.

As part of the final arrangements for the operation of the private lift, it was agreed by the metro district board that a uniformed security guard would be hired to check credentials at the base of the lift.

To gain access, a person must be a resident or guest from the Five Trees subdivision, a resident of either of two other neighborhoods that have easy access to the lift, a student, teacher or administrator from the Aspen School District, a participant in either the ski club’s race or instructional programs, or a coach or member of the board of the ski club.

Parents of students or ski club participants are not authorized to use the lift.

The lift was envisioned as a benefit to local kids and was shown as the “school” lift on all the plans for the new base area at Aspen Highlands, developed by Hines Interests. It also had a secondary benefit of creating a ski-in, ski-out neighborhood on what was known as the Moore property and today is called Five Trees.

There are 41 single-family, free-market homesites in Five Trees and 31 “affordable,” deed-restricted single-family homes. The residents of the deed-restricted units have access to the lift, as will residents of the neighboring Meadowood subdivision and the homes off of Glen Eagles Drive.

It’s not known how long the security guards will be necessary to enforce the limited access to the lift.

“This is for the time being,” said Beach. “More than likely, these things will sort themselves out.”

In addition to the guard, there will be a normal complement of Skico employees at the lift, which is under contract by the metro district to operate on the same schedule as the other lifts at the ski area.

Access to Highlands via the Five Trees lift may become more desirable to non-residents and non-students, at least on weekends.

The city of Aspen plans to close the Moore swimming pool parking lot to skiers who park there and catch a bus to the Highlands base area rather than pay the daily $5 parking fee.

There is a large school parking lot across the street from the new lift and some might be tempted to park there and use the new lift to begin their skiing day.

But they’ll need to have the right credentials.

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