Aspen voters turn down Woody Creek land acquisition bonding

A map provided by the city of Aspen showing the two parcels in Woody Creek it has under contract. The city is investigating the possibility of building a reservoir on the site, as well as looking at the possibility of a reservoir in the neighboring Elam gravel pit.

From The Aspen Times:

Aspen voters denied the city permission Tuesday to use $5.5 million in general obligation bonds to buy a piece of land in Woody Creek that would potentially be converted into a reservoir for future water storage.

Unofficial results showed the measure was decided by a 53.4 percent to 46.6 percentage margin.

The outcome of the vote won’t preclude the city from acquiring a 58-acre parcel of land from Woody Creek Development Co. The city has had the property under contract to buy for $2.65 million.

The city had said that even without voter approval, it would still buy the property possibly by using certificates of participation to finance the deal or through cash and internal financing.

The city’s pending purchase of the land was in response to public outcry over statements it had made in previous water court filings that it could dam both Maroon and Castle creeks for future water supply.

The city has various reservoir options for the Woody Creek land, as Aspen Journalism reported in October that the largest one would span 8,000 acre-feet at a cost of $81 million, with a 5,000-foot-long dam, based on a study by Longmont-based engineering firm Deere and Ault.

The actual development of the reservoir is not in the city’s immediate future, Aspen Journalism reported.

“Developing water storage is an effort that will take time to fully implement, as it involves property acquisition, studies, planning, permitting, engineering and design before any construction can begin,” Margaret Medellin, a utilities portfolio manager in the city’s water department, was quoted as saying. “This is not an overnight process. Securing the property is the first step.”

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