Marolt Open Space management plan looks at more amenities
Bike park, possible community garden expansion on the table
Just like most outdoor recreation destinations in the pandemic era, the Marolt Open Space is seeing more activity and users are wanting more out of what is considered the heart of Aspen’s recreational landscape.
A new bike park is being contemplated as part of an updated master plan for the 74.5-acre parcel at the entrance to town.
Aspen City Council members were interested in the idea when they reviewed the draft plan earlier this week during a work session.
John Spiess, the city’s open space and natural resources manager, told council while presenting the plan that people who responded to an online survey said they wanted a bike park for skills building.
“It was families who want a place they can take their kid and work (on skills) because they are not ready for Airline (trail in Sky Mountain Park) or whatever it is,” he said. “A place they can go out and ride as a family.”
The location of the park would be on the western portion of the open space, between the Marolt Place housing complex and Castle Creek Road, which is currently a steep hill with scrub oak.
The idea would be to have a downhill trail with a series of jumps and a separate single track return to the top.
Mike Pritchard, executive director of the Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association, supports the concept of a fully featured bike park on Marolt.
“In the near term, RFMBA supports small scale pump tracks or featured internal loop trails,” he said in a statement provided in a memo to council.
Councilwoman Rachel Richards said she’d like the idea to be studied further and as part of that, to have Spiess and his team look at other open space parcels that may be more appropriate, or would connect to other trails.
“I hate to think that this came up as a need because we were doing a master plan as opposed to it could be suited and perhaps bigger and have other amenities associated with it,” she said during Monday’s work session.
Off-leash dogs and what are being called “social trails,” also known as bandit trails on the open space, were other top issues for those who provided feedback to www.aspencommunityvoice.com, the city’s online public input platform.
“Many of these soft-surface, single-track trails and footpaths are unofficial social trails that have developed as a result of people beelining from point to point or simply by using a favorite route repeatedly until a trail develops,” Spiess wrote in a memo to council. “Several of these trails have recently become double and triple track trails where people walk side by side.
“New social trails have recently developed in several areas that were undergoing revegetation following impacts from irrigation and ditch work.”
As part of the management plan, Spiess told council that he and staff also are researching the possibility of expanding the community garden on Marolt, or finding alternative locations.
“There is a waitlist and we know in casual conversation that those are well-loved and well-used,” he said. “There’s obviously a need there.”
The management plan is 75 pages long, with an appendix of 300 pages.
“I think it is quite an impressive document,” Spiess said. “Importantly with all of these management plans is that this document becomes our guiding document, and it’s a deep dive so that we can look forward and think about what the plan will guide us to do in the next 10 years.”
In April, the city’s open space and trails board reviewed the document, discussed the range of public comments and recommended that the plan go to council for review.
Staff will incorporate council feedback and direction, and the revised management plan will be brought to the open space and trails board for adoption during its June 17 meeting.
City Council is expected to adopt it via a resolution in late June or early July.
“I think what you are hearing up here is excitement for activation, sharing this parcel with the community more,” Mayor Torre said. “It’s intriguing and sounds great — I can see it being wonderful, picnic tables and a place to gather.”
Aspen Parks and Recreation announced that Desiree Whitehead has been named the city’s new recreation manager and Jim Pratt the new golf manager.
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