Carbondale to keep Delaney property primarily passive parkland |

Carbondale to keep Delaney property primarily passive parkland

Picture a 12-year-old girl practicing her fly casting on a large pond, just a hundred yards or so below a row of Carbondale houses. Behind her, a gaggle of geese glide to a landing in the wetlands.

A couple of rambunctious grade schoolers float sail boats down an irrigation ditch that feeds the pond, while a load of tourists from Kansas set out City Market potato salad and rotisserie chicken at a nearby picnic table.

Come winter, ice skating has replaced fly casting. You can bet at least one health nut on snowshoes will be running sprints up and down the property, getting in shape for one of Aspen’s uphill snowshoe races.

Those are a few of the scenes likely to unfold in years to come, after Carbondale’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to keep the 33-acre Delaney property primarily a passive recreation and park area.

The vote came after months of public review and input.

“People made comparisons to (Aspen’s) Hallam Lake, with trails and water and wildlife,” said John McCarty, a land planner with Otak, hired to draft a masterplan for the property.

The Delaney property’s key element is an irregularly shaped pond that will cover just over a half acre. Plan A, which the trustees approved, also calls for a network of several smaller ponds, connected by a pair of irrigation ditches that converge at the north end of property.

Other design elements include a small amphitheater, hiking trails, rest rooms and a nature center. Approximately 19 acres of the property will be left as wetlands, which attract birds and other wildlife.

“Nineteen acres of wetlands can be turned into a real asset,” McCarty told the trustees.

McCarty and the Parks and Recreation Commission presented four possible master plans for the property, located on Roaring Fork River bottomland northeast of Town Hall.

Plan A has mostly passive features, while Plan D, at the opposite end of the spectrum, has the most active features, with three baseball/softball fields and a soccer field. Plan C has three ball fields, while Plan B has one ball field.

Trustees chose not to build ball fields because of expensive mitigation efforts to replace wetlands lost to the fields, and swarms of deer flies that come and go at different times of the year.

“The deer flies can become unbearable,” McCarty said. “They would be a real nuisance.”

McCarty said Plan D, with four ball fields, had a lot of support.

Brian Gaddis, who lives on County Road 111, told the trustees, “Our sports fields are a disgrace. … The North Face field is the only decent one. … River Valley Ranch is terrible. We need something like this for the kids.”

Kevin Wright, who has coached youth sports, agreed with Gaddis and said the fields are in “terrible shape.” But he said, “wetlands are not meant for ball fields.”

An outdoor ice rink scored higher than ball fields, a volleyball court, basketball court and other active recreational amenities on a community survey, but is not included in Plan A.

Nancy Smith, a former trustee, spoke in favor of an ice rink. She indicated it would attract a broad section of the community.

“It appeals to people who won’t be interested in organized leagues. … An ice rink gives you that opportunity,” Smith continued.

One problem with building an ice rink is the cost associated with pouring a concrete slab on wetlands, because a large nonwetland area is hard to come by in Plan A. “I don’t see the feasibility of pouring a concrete slab,” said trustee David Rippe.

Rippe’s motion to approve Plan A included a provision to leave open a large piece of ground at the property’s south end for a ball field, if the town decides it wants one.

After the meeting, McCarty said he and other Otak planners will fine tune Plan A and bring it back to the trustees.

Carbondale has no immediate plans to develop the Delaney property, but staffers have said it will probably be a phased project.

The town is also master planning a whitewater park on the Roaring Fork River and has designed a recreation center for its North Face property. None of the recreation projects are yet scheduled for construction. Carbondale funds recreation with a dedicated 0.5 percent sales tax, which raises about $450,000 per year.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chairperson Carol Farris said the commission plans to draft a master plan for all the town’s recreation facilities next year.

In other business at Tuesday night’s meeting, trustees voted to allow the Mt. Sopris Condominium Association to rent out booth spaces in its parking lot for the Carbondale Mountain Fair, slated for July 26-28.

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