Old Emma sheep ranch to house new ‘flock’ | AspenTimes.com

Old Emma sheep ranch to house new ‘flock’

One of the last working sheep ranches in the valley was sold this fall, but the property will still be home for a flock.

The 18.5-acre sheep ranch owned for 41 years by John “Jack” and Elizabeth “Liz” Gredig was sold to the Grace Church. The midvalley congregation will use the land for a new house of worship.

“We see this as the exchanging of one flock for another ” the Gredigs are moving their sheep farm further west and Grace Church is moving her ‘flock’ over to the old farm,” said the Rev. Terry Maner, pastor of Grace Church.

The ranch is located at the “T” intersection on Emma Road, just downvalley from the old Emma school and across Highway 82 from the old Emma store. Much of the site is obscured by a high wooden fence but the classic old ranch house is visible jutting up like a pyramid.

The Gredigs moved their sheep ranch to the Debeque area. The sale closed on Sept. 25 at a price in excess of $1 million, according to Wayne Starr, an elder in the congregation. The church took possession of the property on Nov. 25.

Starr said the Grace Church was created in October 2002 by remaining members of the former Basalt Bible Church congregation. The Basalt Bible Church sold its church, located along Highway 82 between Basalt and El Jebel, to the Alpine Christian Fellowship and Academy for its expanding services and school.

Once that sale was completed, members of the Grace Church started meeting on Sundays at the Eagle County Community Center. This purchase gives them a chance to have their own “home” again. A detailed plan will be submitted to Pitkin County in 45 to 60 days.

Starr said the Gredigs’ property was listed for several years. Buyers may have been scared away because of limited development potential. Pitkin County and the town of Basalt didn’t want to see the land gobbled for suburban sprawl.

“The classic development use was never applicable to this land,” said Starr.

The church plans to preserve some of the historic character. Starr said the ranch house will be preserved where it is, along with some of the agricultural sheds.

The church also plans to sell one acre of land to Pitkin County for a fueling station for public works and sheriff’s office vehicles. The county currently owns a half-acre section of the land right next to the old school. That site will be reclaimed as meadow; a site on the southeast corner will be offered to the county for sale, according to Starr.

Grace Church envisions using the property for more than worship on Sundays. There will be a main gathering place capable of hosting community service events and activities, a community garden for contributing to local food banks and a small community-style chapel for reflection and small gatherings.

The age of the historic ranch house wasn’t available. The Gredigs couldn’t be reached for comment.

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

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