Orphaned properties now have a home | AspenTimes.com

Orphaned properties now have a home

Pitkin County’s orphaned trails and open spaces have been officially adopted.

A final vote by Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday made the properties, now meagerly supported by the county’s general fund, eligible for maintenance by the county’s Open Space and Trails program. The Open Space program has a surplus in its maintenance budget that can now be used to provide needed work on some of the formerly orphaned properties.

The Open Space Board of Trustees had hesitated to take on maintenance of the properties, wanting assurance that none of the properties could be disposed of by the county in the future if the program’s dedicated tax money was to be spent on them. Open Space Board members questioned whether the program’s charter allows its money to be spent on properties not actually acquired by the program.

One discussion between the boards primarily revolved around whether the county trails and open space properties not under the program would be “transferred” to the program, and thus be permanently part of the program, or simply “designated” to the program for maintenance purposes.

The program’s charter can be interpreted to say Open Space maintenance money can be spent on county properties that are not transferred into the program, Open Space Director Dale Will said. And that is the conclusion reached by both boards.

The trustees also had reservations about taking on properties that host ongoing commercial activities – rafting at Wilton Jaffee Park and paraglider landings at North Star Nature Preserve – and the possibility that some trails might soon have to be moved, either to improve the slope of the trail or to accommodate nearby road construction.

The issue of commercial use was not resolved. Will said that issue still needs to be addressed.

“I think the county is going to get to work on a commercial policy on not only these open space properties, but other properties,” Will said.

The commissioners also approved a budget resolution contributing the $64,400 annual trail maintenance budget in the general fund to the Open Space and Trails maintenance program. The rest of the funding will come from the 10 percent of the Open Space program’s mil levy which is earmarked for maintenance of properties.

The properties designated as Open Space and Trails properties include Rio Grande Trail, Owl Creek Trail, Sunnyside Trail, Hunter Creek Trail, AABC Trail, Penny Hot Springs and Redstone Park.

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