Carbondale seeks $200K from GarCo for Red Hill property | PostIndependent.com

Carbondale seeks $200K from GarCo for Red Hill property

Ryan Summerlin
rsummerlin@postindependent.com

Carbondale is looking for Garfield County to pay into a land acquisition to pave the way toward a new trailhead access to Red Hill — and simultaneously block development.

The Red Hill Recreation Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, is just north of town, across from Colorado 82. And, a 25-acre parcel at its base sits right at the gateway to town.

Carbondale and the Aspen Valley Land Trust have long had their eyes on the property for about a decade, not only for its potential to improve access to the Red Hill trails, but also to eliminate the chances of it being developed by private interests.

Though the asking price had always been too steep for the town and AVLT, the owner recently slashed the price by more than $1 million, and AVLT closed on the property in December for $825,000.

The organization was able to pay for this property with a bridge loan, which Carbondale is now asking county commissioners to help reimburse.

The town is asking commissioners to contribute $200,000 from the county's conservation trust fund in 2019, a request the commissioners will consider on Monday.

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"Garfield County's contribution is critical to the land purchase and will help leverage additional funds from other sources," Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington wrote in a memo to commissioners.

Though AVLT has already closed on the land, the project also requires more fundraising to cover improvements to the property, including a new trailhead at the base of Red Hill [with possibly two new trail connections], expanded parking and a possible realignment of Garfield County Road 107.

AVLT is also looking to develop a "management fund" that would allow the town to maintain the property, as the ultimate goal is to transfer that land to Carbondale.

"Of the total project funding goal of $1.35 million, AVLT has contributed $300,000, major donors have contributed $300,000, the town of Carbondale has committed $50,000, and the land trust has been actively fundraising for the remainder," wrote Harrington.

The county has a public safety interest in bringing the main trailhead downhill, as the only current access to the Red Hill trails requires hikers and cyclists to go up the dirt road of Garfield County Road 107, which Harrington says "has become increasingly congested with recreational and vehicle traffic, posing rising public safety concerns."

"If fundraising is successful, the town will work with AVLT, engineers and trail designers to undertake trail planning and construction in the summer of 2018," according to Harrington.

"The town views this project as a win-win scenario that will benefit county residents as well as road and trail users …" wrote the town manager.