McCloskeys to remove dirt pile on road | AspenTimes.com

McCloskeys to remove dirt pile on road

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A deal is in the works to remove a pile of dirt blocking the primary access road into Hunter Creek.

Bonnie McCloskey hand-delivered a note of apology to the county public works director Thursday, and promised to remove the pile that somehow ended up smack in the middle of the county road.

“She said a subcontractor put it there accidentally,” said Brian Pettet, public works director.

Bonnie and Tom McCloskey were issued a red tag last week after a local resident called the county to complain about the dirt.

It is at least the fourth and possibly the fifth time the McCloskeys have been red tagged – the county’s administrative equivalent of a cease-and-desist order – over access to the Hunter Creek Valley, Pettet said.

The couple has been attempting to close the county road, sometimes called the north road, sometimes the toll road, through their property since they purchased it in 1987 from developer Fritz Benedict. The home they built is 50 or so feet from the county road, which is one of two ways to access the valley and wilderness from Aspen.

The McCloskeys’ early attempts were met with well-organized, vocal opposition. Hunter Creek enthusiasts, mostly hikers and mountain bikers, have kept a close eye on them ever since.

The dispute ground down once it entered the federal court system, but over the years, the county road has remained open to the public. It remains the primary access for county and U.S. Forest Service employees looking to access the public land and wilderness adjacent to the couple’s 70-acre lot.

In 1999 and 2000, the McCloskeys built a new access road and a new gate farther from their home. They were red tagged in the summer of 2001 for planting grass seed on the county road as part of their attempt to steer people away from the house.

Tom McCloskey has said the new road is meant to be a replacement for the county right of way, but he has yet to deed ownership of the alternate route to the county. Until that happens, the county is not willing to give up the right of way it already owns.

Pettet said in most cases red tags are followed up by a letter outlining the problem and what needs to be done to cure it. In this case, however, Pettet said a verbal promise from Bonnie McCloskey should be all that’s required.

“We’ll follow up right away and check to see if it’s still there,” Pettet said.

Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com


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