Talks back on for Droste deal |

Talks back on for Droste deal

The on-again, off-again negotiations to preserve the Droste property outside Snowmass Village are on again.

Just last week, the Droste family was poised to sell off the first lot from its vast land holdings, dashing the town’s hope of preserving a chunk of key open space in the Brush Creek Valley.

Now, there is new hope of preserving 500 acres at the entrance to Snowmass Village.

“We’ve moved vastly closer than we were [last] Thursday,” said Bob Ritchie, the Drostes’ real estate broker for the property. “I think this is by far the most encouraging talks have been.”

Last week, the Drostes rejected the terms of a verbal counter offer from the town to purchase a conservation easement on 500 acres.

But this earlier week, on Tuesday morning, a written version of the town’s proposal was forwarded to the Drostes – with just enough amendments to compel the Drostes to open up discussions again. Just hours later, the Drostes sent over a counter offer to the town’s proposal.

Neither side wanted to jeopardize negotiations yesterday by revealing the specifics of the latest round of offers, but there were apparently enough concessions made by both sides to keep the dialogue going.

“I’d say [last] Thursday there were about 20 contentious issues. Now we’re down to two or three,” Ritchie said.

From the Town Council’s view, “there has been movement,” said Councilman Jack Hatfield. A few sticking points have yet to be resolved, he said.

At this point, Hatfield added, it’s time to give town residents a say in the matter.

Last November, Snowmass Village voters authorized a $7.1 million bond to finance the cost of “acquiring all or a portion” of the Droste property “to preserve the open and rural character of the Brush Creek Valley.”

It’s high time for a public meeting to let voters weigh in on the contentious negotiations that have gone on since then, Hatfield believes.

“We told the public during the campaign that we would bring this back before them. I don’t know how [a public meeting] will work or how it will play out, but it will play out,” Hatfield said.

Last week’s failed attempt to reach a deal on a conservation easement saw the town offering $7 million to preserve 500 acres and the Drostes asking for $7.5 million. Both sides, however, indicated it was disagreement over other terms and not the difference in price that tripped up negotiations.

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