New task force will again take up parking at Lenado
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
PITKIN COUNTY – A re-formed community task force will once again try to hash out conflicts over parking in Lenado, the tiny community east of Woody Creek that is a popular spot for accessing the backcountry.
This time, the county is inviting both former task force members and representatives of Lenado and the Woody Creek Caucus who felt their ranks weren’t adequately represented by the group that met last year, according to Brian Pettet, public works director for Pitkin County.
And this time, county commissioners will be asked to approve the group’s makeup.
“We’ll have political backing of the membership this time,” Pettet said.
Commissioners have also allocated $2,000 to hire an outside facilitator to direct the talks, he said.
Prospective members have until March 5 to notify the county they want to serve. Pettet hopes to convene the task force later in March for perhaps three meetings in which they’ll delve again into parking and safety issues on narrow, winding Woody Creek Road.
The issues are the subject of a lawsuit, filed earlier this month by two Lenado landowners who object to use of the roadside for parking and to the result that came from the task force’s last deliberations – the placement of county signs designating parking areas along the road next to their property.
The lawsuit claims the commissioners’ action to designate parking will alter the status quo by formalizing parking that has been occurring illegally, resulting in trespassing, theft and devaluation of the land owned by the two men – Frank Peters and Daniel Delano – and the denial of access to their property.
The first signs, along the upper stretch where parking is allowed on one side of the road, went up about a month ago, Pettet said. Signs on the lower stretch were erected about a week ago.
The lawsuit requested court action to prevent the county from erecting the signs and implementing its parking and snowmobile staging plan until the case could be heard, but no motion for such an injunction was subsequently filed, according to Chris Seldin, assistant county attorney. The motion is a required step, he said.
Both snowmobilers and backcountry skiers park along the road. The signs indicate a 72-hour limit on parking, which has generated one complaint. The limit will go to commissioners – probably this week – for their input, Pettet said.
The parking situation has generated two complaints to authorities this winter, but no citations, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The county’s intent in erecting the signs was to allow parking in the designated stretches, and enforce the no-parking rules in areas where parking is not allowed.
Among the suggestions explored by the task force last year was moving the designated parking farther up the road, beyond the point where the county currently quits plowing it, to put the vehicles in an area where the road is bordered by national forest.
There are potential problems with that solution, according to Pettet, including possible avalanche issues, the need for additional plowing and a lack of space for vehicles, some towing trailers, to turn around. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service suggested an environmental assessment might be required, but there is now a new forest ranger in the Aspen district, Pettet noted.
The designated parking established this winter may be a temporary experiment, county commissioners said when they approved the plan. Commissioners called for further discussion of other alternatives by the task force.
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