Old tree farm set to become new park | AspenTimes.com

Old tree farm set to become new park

The elected board in charge of converting the old Mount Sopris Tree Farm into the new Crown Mountain Park plans to take major strides this year in accomplishing its mission.

A preliminary budget for the Crown Mountain Recreation District shows that $2.33 million will be spent this year and nearly $2.8 million next year toward the goal of making a top-notch recreational facility in the midvalley park.

“I can’t say we’ll be breaking ground on May 1 or August 1. Whenever it is, we want to make sure we do it right,” said Laurie Soliday, chair of the recreation district’s board of directors.

The preliminary budget shows that the district will spend a significant amount of funds on necessary infrastructure improvements this year, then put the icing on the cake next year with recreational facilities ranging from a dedicated dog park to a BMX track.

The big items in this year’s budget aren’t all that sexy, but they are the necessary first steps toward constructing recreational amenities. An estimated $880,000 will be spent on infrastructure improvements and common areas in the 120-acre park located between the El Jebel Amoco station and the Roaring Fork River. Another $500,000 will be spent on design, engineering and administration of the work.

This year’s budget also features $255,000 for earthwork and grading; $250,000 for irrigation of the site; and $125,000 for electrical work.

But it’s not all infrastructure investment. Also funded this year will be $211,000 on paths and walkways and $108,000 on ball fields.

The following year is when the park will really take shape. The projected budget calls for $168,000 to be spent on a concession stand and restrooms; $160,000 to be spent on picnic areas; and $50,000 on furnishings and park benches.

For active recreationalists, there is $63,000 budgeted for basketball courts; $110,000 for tennis courts; $94,000 for a skateboard park; and $28,000 for a BMX bicycle track.

Another $500,000 will be spent on plantings and landscaping, and $250,000 will be devoted to the irrigation system.

It will cost an estimated $500,000 to place a liner in a pond on the property. Another $105,000 is needed for a maintenance facility, according to the preliminary budget.

The 2004 work will require an estimated $700,000 for engineering, design and supervision.

Funding for the district was approved by voters last November. The district will issue $5.5 million in bonds to cover construction of the facilities. The bonds will be repaid through a property tax increase.

Voters approved a separate tax hike to fund maintenance and operations of the district. Those funds ? an estimated $250,000 ? will accrue in 2003 but won’t be collected until 2004.

The recreation district board will meet the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Eagle County Community Center in El Jebel. The public is welcome. The 2003 budget is scheduled to be approved at the next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

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