Marolt Open Space management plan approved

Aspen City Council signs off on 10-year plan for open space at entrance to town

Sheri Sanzone follows her two black labs Bates and Foster through the Marolt Open Space trails in Aspen on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

A 10-year management plan for the Marolt Open Space that largely leaves it untouched but leaves room for a feasibility study of a future bike park on the south side of the property was approved Tuesday night by Aspen City Council.

If the area, located between Castle Creek Road and the Marolt Place housing complex, is considered appropriate for this type of use, the city’s parks and open space staff would seek public input prior to the implementation of any plan, according to John Spiess, the city’s open space and natural resource manager.

Area residents expressed concern about the possible bike park plans after they were discussed in council’s June 7 work session as part of a presentation on the 77-page draft management plan.

The city open space and trails board also heard some of those concerns at its board meeting in mid-June, and they were addressed by staff during a public meeting and one-on-one meetings onsite.

More than 300 people have signed onto a petition at asking that the open space remain unchanged, which is what the plan outlines.

Before unanimously approving the plan, Mayor Torre asked staff to clarify the intent of a future bike park.

Matt Kuhn, the city’s parks and open space director, said any major change of use will include extensive public outreach.

“Whether it’s a bike park or expansion in the community garden or other future contemplated changes out there, they will be handed individually,” he said.

The Marolt Open Space is a 74.5-acre parcel at the Entrance to Aspen that was obtained by the city in the early 1980s with the intent of it being a passive park that would serve as a hub for the trail system.

The plan is an update and guides open space officials on how to manage the parcel and preserve the land for the next 10 years. It includes maintaining the infrastructure on the property, as well as the native vegetation and trails.

Some of the action items in the plan are innocuous, like replacing the buck rail fence that runs parallel to Highway 82, adding wayfinding signs to help people navigate the property, or developing a commuter path to divert users off undesignated trails.

Another item is to allow dog play in the Marolt pond but not in the wetlands to protect the riparian area in the middle of the property to protect wildlife habitat.