Name options for Droste land get half-hearted endorsement | AspenTimes.com

Name options for Droste land get half-hearted endorsement

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesMount Daly and the Snowmass Ski Area gleam beyond the Droste ridge on Sunday. A seasonal closure of the open space begins Thursday.

ASPEN – The committee charged with coming up with a new name for what’s generally referred to as the Droste open space offered a half-hearted recommendation Tuesday and agreed to let Pitkin County commissioners make the final call.

The process of naming both the ridge that is the highlight of the former Droste property, as well as a greater collection of open space parcels that includes the Droste land, failed to captivate the community in the way open space officials hoped, conceded Dale Will, county open space and trails director, on Tuesday.

The public nominated names for both the ridge and the greater mountain park, as it has been called, and residents were invited to vote from among contenders chosen by the committee.

While most committee members didn’t appear thrilled by the results of online voting – Open Sky Ridge and Skyline Mountain Park were the top vote-getters – most weren’t willing to set the public’s input aside entirely, either.

“I don’t think you should ask people what they think and then ignore them,” said Martha Cochran, executive director of Aspen Valley Land Trust and a committee member.

But Hawk Greenway, representing the Open Space and Trails board of trustees, was uninspired by the names and suggested the greater 2,500 acres simply be referred to as the “mountain park” for the time being. He liked Skyline for the ridgetop trail.

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“I think the exact name might come after a year or two of people living with the property,” he said. “Is that sufficiently waffle-y?”

“I don’t want to have an interim name,” countered John Wilkinson, Snowmass Village town councilman. “I want to get the moniker ‘Droste’ out of our vocabulary.”

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland suggested that the committee dropped the ball by not getting local schoolchildren more integrally involved in the naming process (they wound up voting online if they wanted to, like everyone else).

Inserting the topic into the curriculum turned out to be easier said than done, Will responded.

Fewer than 200 people participated in both the voting to name the ridge and the poll on the park name.

“I think we should turn it over to the county commissioners and let them do what they want,” Ireland said. “They’ve got the majority of the money in it.”

A consortium of upper-valley governments, plus the land trust and Great Outdoors Colorado, put up the money to buy the former Droste land last year. The $17 million purchase brought into public hands the scenic ridge that separates the Brush Creek and Owl Creek valleys, stretching from near Snowmass Village almost to state Highway 82. The purchase also included land in the Brush Creek Valley floor.

The county Open Space and Trails program is now seeking public input on a master plan for both the former Droste land and the greater mountain park (an open house took place in Aspen on Tuesday evening), but there’s still no formal name for the open space that is the focus of that effort.

“We still have to call this something every time we put out a public notice,” Will said. “If we wait two years, people are going to call it ‘Droste.'”

Whatever it’s called, the property closes to the public on Thursday to protect its winter big-game habitat. The popular trail on the ridge will reopen May 15.

The committee voted 3-2 to recommend the names Open Sky Ridge and Skyline Mountain Park to commissioners, but it stressed the recommendations have only “lukewarm” support.

janet@aspentimes.com

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