Open-space program is laid out |

Open-space program is laid out

A group trying to start an open-space program encompassing Basalt to West Glenwood plans to take the first formal step Friday in getting a proposal on the November ballot.

The organization plans to submit a service plan – essentially an outline of how the district would be set up and operated – to Garfield County, according to Bob Schultz, a spokesman for the open-space initiative. That same plan will be submitted to Eagle County on Friday or shortly thereafter, he said.

If the plan is approved by the planning commissions and board of county commissioners of each county, it will go to a district court judge to be certified. Certification would advance the plan to the November ballot in the affected portions of Eagle and Garfield counties.

The boundaries of the proposed district are the same as the RE-1 school district in the middle and lower Roaring Fork Valley, Schultz said. Portions of the school district that are in Pitkin County would be excluded since Pitkin already has an open-space program.

The service plan proposes a property-tax levy of 2.5 mils. That would cost the owner of a house with a $300,000 assessed value $75 per year, according to Schultz.

The property tax would raise about $1 million in the first year, with increasing amounts as development occurs in the district. The $1 million in revenues could be turned into $10 million in bonds, said Schultz.

The service plan will commit to using at least 70 percent of the revenues on open-space land purchases, 15 percent on trail improvements and no more than 15 percent on maintenance and administration.

The idea, Schultz said, is to pledge to voters that the money will be used to buy and keep key parcels of land undeveloped rather than to build a big bureaucracy.

Schultz and other steering committee members outlined their plan for both the Garfield and Eagle county commissioners this week in work sessions or informal settings. The proponents were seeking comments from the elected officials prior to formalizing their plan.

“What we got was very positive,” Schultz said.

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