Pitkin County board won’t curb open space access near Redstone
The Aspen Times
Aspen Co Colorado
ASPEN – A neighborhood request to limit public access on a dirt road extending north out of Redstone was flatly rejected Thursday by members of the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board of trustees.
Public use of Dorais Way, which serves private residences and also provides access to the county’s Filoha Meadows open space, became a point of contention after the county acquired the Filoha property, intending to use the roadway for access. Two property owners challenged the access, but the county’s trail easement along the road alignment was upheld in court, according to Dale Will, Open Space and Trails director.
Last summer, after Filoha opened to the public for the first time, some residents of the neighborhood came before the board, alleging incidents of trespassing and vandalism connected with the increased use of the road.
Last month, the Rock Creek Association, which maintains the road on behalf of about a dozen property owners, issued a position statement outlining a number of proposals, including limiting public access to the road to match the rules established for Filoha Meadows. The open space is open from July 1 to Sept. 30 between dawn and dusk, and visitors must stay on the wagon road that runs the length of the property – essentially an extension of Dorais Way. And, homeowners requested that only pedestrian access be allowed on the road through their neighborhood; no dogs or bikes.
At present, the public may walk or bike the nearly two miles up the road from the north Redstone bridge to the Filoha Meadows boundary, but can’t ride a bike on the open space. Leashed dogs are permitted on the road as far as the open space boundary, but not on the Filoha property. When Filoha is closed for the winter and spring, the road is posted as closed about a mile from the north Redstone bridge.
“Those of us that moved into this neighborhood place a high value, I think, on solitude and privacy,” said John Emerick, representing the Rock Creek Association. “We’re not evil people … we simply have some concerns about how the road is managed.”
Board members were amenable to some of the association’s requests, including sharing in a portion of the road maintenance costs and putting up some additional signs, though Will noted the county has already posted a plethora of signs at various points.
“I think we’re kind of in danger of sign pollution with all the things that are posted along that thing now,” he said.
The association also requested that a gate on the road, currently placed at the boundary of Forest Service and private land, be moved to the start of the roadway, at the north Redstone bridge. The proposed new locale is Forest Service property, Will said, and that decision is up to the federal agency.
The three board members present unanimously indicated they don’t favor the limitations on public use of the road suggested by the association. Walkers and joggers enjoy Dorais Way even when Filoha is closed, Will noted.
“Whatever the set of rules, it applies to everyone across the board,” said member Anne Rickenbaugh. “There won’t be a special set of rules for Dorais Way homeowners.”
“I would go further to say I wouldn’t enter into mediation on this point,” said board member Hawk Greenway. “I don’t think we should roll over.”
There had been talk of mediation or some other process to resolve the neighborhood’s concerns, but board members didn’t appear anxious to take that route Thursday.
The neighborhood’s biggest concern is the potential liability the association could face if someone is hurt using the narrow road, where conflicts between a bicyclist and a vehicle, for example, are possible, Emerick said.
“It totally petrifies most of the homeowners,” he said.
Board members suggested consulting with John Ely, county attorney, on the matter, and board member Tim McFlynn offered to help Emerick get in touch with a legal expert on such issues.
The association also urged the county to erect a bridge over the Crystal River, allowing a connection directly from Highway 133 to the south end of Filoha Meadows, where the road/trail enters the property, but open space officials weren’t keen on the idea, citing impacts to the riparian environment and other concerns.
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