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 go.”

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 trails.

“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 a problem.






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