Potato cellar isn’t history in Aspen | VailDaily.com

Potato cellar isn’t history in Aspen

ASPEN ” State historic preservation officials mashed an Aspen group’s effort to use an old potato cellar to block a proposal to straighten the highway at the entrance to the resort.

The cellar, on open space on Aspen’s west edge, isn’t historically significant, said Amy Pallante, compliance coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Office.

The cellar was “probably” built in the 1940s when the Marolt family was farming the land, the assessment concluded. It may be older: The Marolts acquired the ranch in 1927.

The cellar was forgotten for years, and vegetation obscured it. Heavy snow made it more visible at the start of this winter.

The earth-and-wood-beam, 60-square-foot cellar is falling apart, which was a strike against it in the state review. And even though the cellar is adjacent to a mining and ranching museum, the fact that it is no longer part of a ranch counted against it, according an assessment by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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Ed Zasacky, a member of the Friends of Marolt board of directors and a vehement foe of straightening the highway, said he the cellar is historically significant because it is “part of the story of Aspen.”

It’s a relic that shows the importance of ranching and farming in an earlier era, when spuds were king between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, he said.

The Friends of Marolt claim that construction of a four-lane highway across the property will potentially damage or destroy the cellar. The highway will go into a tunnel beneath a portion of the site.

“I’m disappointed in the decision,” Zasacky said. “It will point out CDOT is glossing over a lot of things, and the city, too.”

The city of Aspen needs voter approval to use the open space for a highway entrance. Opponents point out the historical significance of the Marolt property, which includes several ranching and mining-era buildings and foundations, he said.

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