Midvalley voters approve fund for park and recreation district | AspenTimes.com

Midvalley voters approve fund for park and recreation district

The midvalley is finally ready to play ball.

Creation of a recreation district and property taxes to build and maintain ball fields and other amenities were approved Tuesday by voters within the proposed district.

Funding for the district was approved by a vote of 1,346 to 1,197, or a margin of 53 to 47 percent. That will allow the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District to issue $5.1 million in general obligation bonds. The bonds will be repaid through a property tax.

In a separate question, voters approved another property tax to operate and maintain the district. The outcome of that question was 1,373 in support and 1,150 against, or a margin of 54 to 46 percent.

And in a third question, formation of the district was approved by an overwhelming 72 to 28 percent margin.

“I think the community should be proud,” said Laurie Gish Soliday, who was elected as one of five members of the board of directors for the new district. Also elected in uncontested races were Daniel Scherer and John Fitzpatrick to four-year terms and Mark Munger and Stephen Kovach to two-year terms.

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Gish Soliday said the five board members celebrated favorable preliminary election results at her house with champagne. “We can’t wait to get started,” she said of the board’s duties.

The board members plan to go through training on how to work together, then start the process of figuring out what amenities to add first at Crown Mountain Park, she said. The board must also hire a director, she said.

The 128-acre park, formerly known as the Mount Sopris Tree Farm, stretches from the El Jebel Amoco station to near the edge of the Roaring Fork River. Eagle County owns the property, and the county commissioners have approved a list of allowed uses.

Now the funding is in place to create those amenities. They include tennis, volleyball and basketball courts; playgrounds; trails; and ball fields. Nearly half of the property ? 60 out of 128 acres ? will remain open space under the approved plan.

Gish Soliday said it was a true community effort that led to creation of the district. Countless midvalley residents volunteered their time to lobby for creation of the district.

One of those residents was Eileen Hinchliffe, who stood outside the polling place at the Eagle County Community Center in El Jebel for about four hours with a sign urging support for the district.

Hinchliffe, who was on the organizing committee for the recreation district, said she supported the proposal because the midvalley has few ball fields and other amenities for kids. She has seen great amenities in so many other towns and wondered why the Basalt and El Jebel area had nothing.

“We’ve got the land so we need to take advantage of it,” she said.

Gish Soliday said she wasn’t surprised by the results because so many midvalley residents told her it was time for a first-class recreation facility. She believes the outcome of the election signifies a maturation of the midvalley.

“People understand in this point in the game this isn’t just a bedroom community for Aspen,” Gish Soliday said.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]

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