Derek Franz

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April 25, 2012
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Eagle and Pitkin counties partner on open space plan

Eagle County Commissioners recently allocated $2 million from the county's open space fund to help purchase the Saltonstall property in Basalt through a joint deal with Pitkin County and others.

The commissioners' approval awaits the blessing of the Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee, which will be considered May 14. The resolution is not binding except to indicate the county's desire to move forward with the project, increasing the odds of landing a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for it in June.

"There are still a few hurdles but this is an important step," said Eagle County Open Space Director Toby Sprunk.

The Saltonstall property is 145 acres that would provide better access to the "Crown." The Crown is 9,300 acres of Bureau of Land Management land that spans parts of Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties, and includes a network of trails. It is currently most commonly accessed from Prince Creek Road off State Route 133 outside Carbondale. With the Saltonstall property, Basalt residents could bicycle to the Crown from town.

The land is under contract for $5 million and the deal is set to close Oct. 1.

Eagle County, Pitkin County, Basalt and the Mid-Valley Trails Committee are all partners in the deal. Pitkin County is matching Eagle County's $2 million pledge. Basalt is good for $500,000 and MVTC is chipping in $50,000. An application for a $500,000 GOCO grant was submitted in hopes of covering the remaining cost.

"We'll know if we get the grant in June, along with our other GOCO grant requests," Sprunk told commissioners. "If these funds do not come through, we will have to assess whether the project funders are willing and able to pony up the other 500K to make it happen."

Some residents surrounding the potential open space voiced concern about management and increased traffic impacting the area.

If the deal goes through, Pitkin and Eagle counties will be in charge of managing the land and will include a steering committee with representatives from the affected neighborhood.

Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon said this level of collaboration between the counties is unique.

"When you talk about multi-value projects like this one, they lend themselves to these partnerships," Sprunk said.

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The VailDaily Updated Apr 25, 2012 01:24PM Published Apr 25, 2012 01:24PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.