| Freshtracks: A rare sight
this winter, a foot of fresh snow blankets a run at Durango
Mountain Resort./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
Carbon Junction relocation in works
Negotiations are currently underway to reroute the popular
Carbon Junction trail in Horse Gulch. Durango Gravel is looking
to expand operations and mine the area where the top end of
the trail currently crosses. Trails 2000, La Plata County and
Oak Ridge Energy, the company that owns much of the land in
Horse Gulch and the lease to Durango Gravel, are looking for
a mutually agreeable solution.
“It’s finally coming to a head,” said Bill
Manning, Trails 2000 executive director. “We’re
all working together to find out where a relocated trail will
Manning said former landowner Noel Pautsky permanently deeded
ownership of the Horse Gulch trails to the county when he passed
away. However, the Pautsky family, which still owns the land,
also owns Oak Ridge Energy and has the right to relocate the
“The trail surface, 12 feet wide, is actually owned by
the county,” said Manning. “Beyond that, the corridor
is owned by the Oak Ridge Energy company.”
The Carbon Junction trail hooks in with Crite’s Connect
and the Sidewinder trail at the north end and dumps out at the
south end of Highway 3. Manning said there are discussion to
move the top of the trail in a canyon to the east.
“I think the trail would be fine, but there are all sorts
of ramifications,” he said.
The Pautsky family also is proposing the ambitious Ewing Mesa
development adjacent to Horse Gulch. One ramification that Manning
is not worried about is the development eclipsing the Horse
Gulch trail system.
“When we set up the trail system, we set it up so it
would pretty darn well be on the periphery of the development,
if the development occurs,” he said.
Rocket Drive-In goes on the market
A request to change the zoning designation of the Rocket Drive-In
from residential to commercial was rejected by the Durango Planning
Commission last week. A few days later, the property officially
went on the real estate market with an asking price of $4 million.
Though the space has been home to the drive-in movie theater
for decades, the 10.5 acre area was designated a residential
area in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The owners of the
space, the Scales Family Trust, had requested a zoning change
to accommodate commercial structures in line with the Home Depot
and Wal-Mart stores that flank it. However, the city stood by
the residential zoning largely because of the site’s proximity
to Escalante Middle School.
“The comprehensive plan calls for residential-medium
density in that area, largely because of the school and there
being too much commercial out there now,” said Millissa
Berry, of the Durango Planning Department.
Berry described the trust’s request as “very conceptual.”
“I don’t think they have any definite commercial
use in mind,” he said. “They just don’t want
to put a residential component in there.”
During the Planning Commission meeting, the applicant was told
that the city would support a mix of commercial and residential
use on the space. However, the request to change the zoning
outright was denied.
“Basically, they were denied for the commercial use,”
Berry said. “They have the choice to resubmit with a mixed
use or appeal to City Council.”
As of press time an appeal had not been filed, and the property
had been listed with Re/Max Western Realty of Durango. The listing
reads, “This may be the best commercial property available
today! Zoning is in progress. Consider assembling several adjoining
properties for a bigger package.”
Seven petition for City Council seats
With the Durango City Council terms of John Gamble and Amos
Cordova set to expire April 15, seven people have picked up
petitions from the City Clerk’s Office. Gamble, Durango’s
current mayor, is among them.
City Clerk Linda Yeager said that for two vacancies, seven
petitions represent above-average interest. “For two positions
on council, seven is pretty high,” she said. “Normally
we’d hand out around five.”
However, Yeager noted that none of the petitions have been
returned. The deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 25, and petitions require
25 signatures from registered voters. The election will take
place April 1 by mail ballot.
For additional information, contact the City Clerk’s
Office at 385-2810.
Funds secured for Red Mountain land
Four million dollars have been earmarked in the federal budget
for the purchase of the Red Mountain Historic District. The
1,600-acre area is owned by Frank Baumgartner and has been on
the market for sale as a “mountain homesites – any
size.” Last fall, Baumgartner flexed some muscle and bulldozed
several historic structures on his property.
Rep. Scott McInnis, R.-Colo., pushed for inclusion of the funding
in the omnibus appropriations package, which cleared the House
and Senate last Friday.
“Red Mountain is a vital link to our past, a literal
time capsule that helps those of us today remember the lives
and times of generations past,” he said. “Preserving
this place is about keeping the past alive and preserving our
western heritage for future generations to enjoy.”
The $4 million funding will go toward the purchase of the area
from Baumgartner and his partner, Tom Chapman, who are willing
to sell. If completed, the acquisition will represent the third
phase of an 11,000-acre historical project.
A number of other local projects also will score big federal
funding. Fort Lewis College is set to be the recipient of $2
million, $1.6 million of which will go to the Center of Southwest
Studies. An additional $500,000 has been earmarked for the Mountain
Studies Institute, a summer research and education program started
last year in Silverton.
The Animas-La Plata Project also is in the budget for its long-awaited
$35 million. The city of Durango would receive $450,000 for
water treatment plant upgrades. And once adopted, the budget
sets aside $1 million for Mercy Medical Center’s planned
expansion in the Grandview area.
For final adoption, the appropriations package only awaits
the president’s signature, which is not expected to be