Public access key in trail link
Residents of Lazy Glen are pinched between the Roaring Fork River and Highway 82 in a way that makes it impossible for them to ride their bicycles or walk to the Rio Grande Trail without first trekking more than a mile along the side of the highway.To remedy the situation, residents of the mobile home park between Basalt and Old Snowmass have asked the county’s Open Space and Trails program to build a bridge across the river and a trail through private property owned by Gregory Kirianoff to connect them with the Rio Grande Trail.As a matter of safety, this seems like a no-brainer. A bridge and trail would have environmental benefits as well, allowing several hundred residents of Lazy Glen to ride bicycles or walk to Basalt, Woody Creek and Aspen. Open Space and Trails board member Bill Fales said at a recent meeting with the Pitkin County commissioners that it’s the program’s duty to provide access to Lazy Glen residents who help pay for the trail system.Conveniently, the proposal comes at a time when Kirianoff wants to subdivide and develop his property immediately across the river. In his original application, Kirianoff generously offered the county approximately eight acres of open space, including river access. He has since scaled back his offer to approximately one acre without river access, according to a county official familiar with the application. Kirianoff’s application gives the county a measure of extra bargaining power when asking him to grant a trail easement across his property. Hopefully, the commissioners can use the strength of their position to convince Kirianoff to grant access rights that are more in line with his original application.As the county moves forward with negotiations, it needs to be sensitive to the effects a trail may have on his ability to develop his property. Done correctly, a trail could be an amenity for both Kirianoff and Lazy Glen. Done poorly, it could lead to another one of those all-too-familiar legal disputes between the county and a property owner.At the same time, the county and residents of Lazy Glen need to keep the other 18,000 or so residents of Pitkin County in mind. Building a bridge for the private use of one neighborhood feels excessive. Even if it will be used primarily by residents of Lazy Glen, the trail must be open to any and all who happen their way down the trail or the highway.And all sides should look at this as a way to increase access to the river for fishers and kayakers and anyone else looking to enjoy the water and Rio Grande Trail.
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