Prince Creek fix waits for timeline |

Prince Creek fix waits for timeline

Pitkin Commissioners voted last week to pay $1.175 million for a 4.6-acre parcel along Prince Creek Road that will serve as a trailhead/parking lot for the Crown Trails mountain biking area.
Aspen Times file photo |

Pitkin County commissioners are ready to spend nearly $1.2 million to improve access to a popular mountain-biking area near Carbondale.

When the improvements to the Prince Creek Road area are actually implemented, however, is the main question yet to be answered by board members, county staff and members of the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board.

Commissioners voted last week to pay $1.175 million for a 4.6 acre parcel along Prince Creek Road that will serve as a trailhead/parking lot for the Crown Trails mountain-biking area. The price also includes a mile-long trail easement that would run along Prince Creek Road and connect the trailhead to the Crown Trails.

That purchase becomes official next week, when commissioners are scheduled to vote on it during second reading. If that occurs, the deal would close July 13, said Matt Adeletti, acquisition manager for the county’s Open Space and Trails program.

The county wants to make the improvements because mountain bikers frequently park along Prince Creek Road and cause congestion for residents of the nearby Prince Creek Subdivision, as well as potential access problems for emergency vehicles, Dale Will, executive director of the open space program, told commissioners last week. In addition, mountain bikers on the road cause safety concerns because of poor sightlines on the road and the possibility of being hit by cars, according to county documents.

All three county commissioners who attended last week’s regular meeting — Patti Clapper, Steve Child and George Newman — said they were in favor of making the improvements.

However, Will told them it might be “a couple years” before any of those improvements can be ready for use because of the glut of open space projects already on the drawing board.

“We are so backed up with projects,” Will said. “This is not going to happen tomorrow.”

Newman bemoaned the decision by the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the Crown Trails, to designate it a special recreation area but provide no money for supervision or parking. The safety concerns are now so great, Newman asked if the trailhead area could be used immediately for parking and help alleviate the problems.

“It’s such a large safety concern,” Newman said.

Child agreed with him, saying he’d like to “get the parking going ASAP.”

Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock, however, said the problem with immediately creating the parking area is that it undermines the county’s commitment to including the public in the project’s planning.

“It’s difficult to fast-track that process,” he said.

Still, it might be possible to delay some projects already in the planning stages, Will said. Open Space and Trails Board members can talk about the current work plan at their next meeting later this month, figure out how that might happen and report back to commissioners, he said.

Child said he would be in favor of bumping other projects because of the safety concerns presented by the Prince Creek situation.

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