Pitco OKs Ryan parcel deal | AspenTimes.com

Pitco OKs Ryan parcel deal

The preservation of the Ryan parcel in Ashcroft cleared another hurdle Wednesday as Pitkin County commissioners approved a resolution to release the county’s share of the funding to purchase the property.

With the vote, the county became the final signatory to the contract, which confers ownership of the parcel from David Middleton to Aspen Valley Land Trust and the county’s Open Space and Trails program. The two groups will hold the property until land swaps, already in the works, can be completed to turn the property over to the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is really neat,” said Commissioner Patti Clapper. She thanked fellow Commissioner Shellie Roy Harper for her work in coordinating the effort to preserve the parcel, which is a central part of Ashcroft Ski Touring’s trail network.

Harper, who met countless times with neighbors, officials and interested parties, expressed relief. “Why the deal finally worked,” she said, “is everybody started working in concert. They started pulling the wagon together instead of in different directions.”

Lynn Mace, a Castle Creek Valley resident and part-owner of the Toklat Gallery in Ashcroft, was elated. “It’s been quite a trip,” she said. “Hallelujah.” Mace has anxiously followed the process since Middleton bought the property.

The selling price of the property was $3.225 million, which was the break-even point for Middleton, who purchased the property for less, but subsequently paid a large amount of interest. Middleton bought the property in 1997 to prevent the parcel from being sold for a luxury home.

Aspen Valley Land Trust has agreed to contribute $1.5 million to the initial purchase, and the Open Space and Trails program has committed $1.25 million. The Open Space funding required commissioner approval.

Middleton and AVLT must raise the $475,000 balance through contributions by Nov. 15. Open Space and Trails executive director Dale Will said the fund raising is going well, but more contributions are needed.

Pitkin County will seek reauthorization for the Open Space and Trails program in the November election.

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