City steps up its interest in a trail at Prehm Ranch
Count the Glenwood Springs City Council among those in favor of Garfield County preserving a trail right of way at Prehm Ranch.
In letters addressed to Garfield County commissioners, the council has twice communicated its support for keeping the trail easement.
“On behalf of the city of Glenwood Springs, I am writing to support the preservation of a trail easement on those public ways proposed to be vacated,” said the first letter, written July 8 and signed by Mayor Don Vanderhoof.
Less than three weeks later, the commissioners decided to reopen a public hearing on whether to vacate the 60-foot-wide right of way through Prehm Ranch. That hearing is schedule for Monday, Aug. 19.
On Aug. 4, another letter was sent from City Council to the Garfield County Commission. It restated council’s support for keeping the trail easement and pledged to “cooperate with the county and construct a trail to a standard acceptable to the county, city and Marlin Ltd.”
Marlin Ltd. is the developer of Prehm Ranch.
“It just looked to us like it was a super addition to the city trail system,” Vanderhoof said of the right of way. “It would be too bad to lose it. Our feeling is that that corridor belongs as a trail.”
The right of way extends through the entire length of Prehm Ranch and into the Westbank subdivision, both south of Glenwood Springs.
“It’s a helluva great idea,” City Councilman Dave Merritt said of the possible trail connecting Glenwood Springs and Westbank. “That’s the worst thing I can say about it.”
The easement vacation is part of a pending lawsuit settlement between Garfield County, the Westbank Homeowners Association, and Marlin Ltd..
County Commission Chairman John Martin said he’s “pleased that the interest is there.”
“As far as the trail itself, that’s one of the reconsiderations,” Martin said. “They (Glenwood Springs City Council) were very interested in hooking it up on both ends.”
According to court documents and public hearing testimony, Marlin wanted to use the 60-foot easement from its Prehm Ranch to create vehicle access to Westbank from the north, thus creating two access points to the ranch. But the county commissioners ruled against the request.
In September 2001, Marlin used the easement to punch a narrow road to Westbank’s Oak Lane, prompting the county commissioners to sue the developer.
The Westbank Homeowners Association, fearing increased traffic on their streets, also petitioned the commissioners to vacate or invalidate a private easement, dating from 1971, to prevent vehicles from accessing their neighborhoods from Prehm Ranch. But according to Merritt, as long as the easement is used strictly as a bicycle and pedestrian path rather than as a road, the majority of Westbank residents support building a trail.
The current settlement between the three parties, which has not been approved, calls for Garfield County to vacate its right of way through the Prehm Ranch.
If that version of the settlement is approved, Prehm Ranch would restrict vehicular access on the road to Westbank with an electronically controlled gate and limit to 27 the number of vehicle trips per day.
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