El Jebel tree farm receiving new life | VailDaily.com
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El Jebel tree farm receiving new life

Scott Condon
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

EL JEBEL, Colorado ” Two buildings that were the site of a tragic accident will be dismantled by Eagle County and recycled as picnic shelters.

The old pine-cone storage buildings at the former Mt. Sopris Tree Farm, next to Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel, will be taken apart this year, county public works director Tom Johnson said.

Cathy Close welcomed the news. Her son, Jamie, died in an accident in one of the buildings on June 23, 2001. The abandoned building had been converted into a makeshift skateboard park. Jaime and some friends were playing in there, but not skateboarding, when he hit his head on a heavy metal bar that skaters used as a rail for tricks.

The implement wasn’t properly anchored. As Jamie fell back he pulled the bar on top of him and was killed.

Eagle County commissioners had allowed use of the buildings after a group of adults said they would take responsibility for the facility. The Closes and others claimed the site was dangerous and never properly supervised. Eagle County settled a lawsuit with the family in June 2003 after deciding “it was the right thing to do,” officials said at the time.

The buildings were boarded up but in recent years kids have regained access. Eagle County deputies occasionally can be seen chasing out trespassers.

Johnson said the two abandoned buildings present an “inherent risk” to kids who are using them.

“They’ve actually been playing paint ball from the roofs,” he said.

The rectangular buildings are about 42 feet by 140 feet each. When the U.S. Forest Service operated a tree nursery at the property in the 1960s and ’70s, it stored and sorted pine cones in the two buildings.

The buildings are essentially rafters and a roof on supports. They don’t have walls, just framing. Johnson said he always felt that the buildings would make perfect picnic shelters, for which there is a need in the area.

Johnson estimated that 90 percent of the two buildings can be recycled. The shingles cannot be salvaged.


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