Public groups buy private Ryan parcel | AspenTimes.com

Public groups buy private Ryan parcel

Jeremy Heiman

The Aspen Valley Land Trust and Pitkin County’s Open Space program have struck a deal with David Middleton to purchase the Ryan Parcel near Ashcroft.

The agreement is intended to preserve the property from development, and ultimately to allow it to be traded to the U.S. Forest Service for other properties of value to Pitkin County as open space. The purchase price is set at $3,225,000.

Owner David Middleton signed a contract to sell the property to the two groups Friday, and AVLT signed on Tuesday. The county’s Open Space and Trails board of trustees passed a resolution Tuesday to recommend that the Pitkin County commissioners also execute the contract. The commissioners will hold a public hearing and vote on the document on October 13. The deal is scheduled to close in January.

Dale Will, director of the Open Space and Trails program, expressed confidence that nothing will derail the deal. “I think things are looking very good,” Will said. “My sense is that the commissioners are really positive about this.”

The 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.

A balance of $475,000 still must be raised from contributions. Reid Haughey, executive director of AVLT, said that Middleton has received verbal commitments for some of that amount, but more money still needs to be raised. Middleton could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Haughey said the Forest Service, which owns the surrounding land, intends to make a trade for the property. Negotiations on a trade for a federal parcel on Devaney Creek, just north of the Ryan property, have been under way for some time, and a Bureau of Land Management property on the Crystal River, known as “Parcel 79,” will probably figure in an eventual land swap.

Community interest in preserving the property has been high, because key ski trails of the Ashcroft Ski Touring area cross part of the property, and because it’s thought to be a particularly inappropriate location for a luxury home.

Middleton purchased the 35-acre parcel from the estate of skiing pioneer Ted Ryan in 1997 to prevent its development. Unable to afford the interest payments, he put the parcel on the real estate market in January after it became clear the Forest Service could not immediately take it on.

Haughey expressed satisfaction that a deal is at hand. “It’s taken a long time to put it together,” he said, “but what we’ve found is a lot of cooperation with everybody involved.”


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