Pitkin County, Drostes miss closing date on open space | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County, Drostes miss closing date on open space

Robb WilliamsonThe Droste property includes the ridge between the Brush Creek and Owl Creek valleys, near Snowmass Village.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Pitkin County and the Droste family have missed the first in a series of closing dates, but no substantive issues have emerged to threaten their massive conservation deal, county open space Director Dale Will said Tuesday.

The county has a contract to purchase 742 acres from Bruce and Peter Droste and their family trusts for $18 million. The county was scheduled to pay $500,000 in mid-September to lock in the option to acquire the entire property, as well as acquire 108 acres known as the airport parcel.

Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield told the Snowmass Village Town Council Monday night the first closing date passed without consummating the deal. He said clearing the title to the property proved to be too big of a challenge before the first closing date.

Hatfield assured the council that the county remains a willing buyer and the Drostes remain willing sellers, and that no philosophical issues have emerged that threaten to derail the purchase.

“We are not considering paying any more for the property,” he said.

Will said Tuesday that “it’s a complicated piece of property.” Ownership is divided between the brothers and their trusts. No new closing has been set because all parties want to wait until the title and parcel lines are straightened out.

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“If anything, our original schedule was overly aggressive,” Will said.

The Droste property is considered a potential prize for the highly accomplished Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Program. Most of the land is on a ridge separating the Brush Creek and Owl Creek valleys. That ridge is highly visible from the two entrances and exits to Snowmass Village.

The government acquisition will snuff development rights for nine luxury homes. The land provides critical winter habitat to the Burnt Mountain elk herd as well as an important migration corridor.

Pitkin County pledged $10 million to the deal and enlisted partners to raise the other $8 million. Snowmass Village voters will decide in the November election if they want to replace an expiring property tax with a new one that would enable the town to contribute $2 million to the acquisition. The city of Aspen has committed $1 million to the deal.

Another $2.5 million is being sought from Great Outdoors Colorado, and $2.5 million will also be sought in private donations.

The Snowmass Village Town Council voted 4-1 Monday night to approve a resolution urging voters to support the tax increase for the Droste contribution. Councilman Arnie Mordkin was opposed even though he said he supports the Droste purchase personally and will “probably” vote for it in the election. Mordkin said he was opposed to telling voters what to do.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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