Pitkin County Open Space and Trails will host an open house Thursday, March 30 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Basalt Town Hall to kick off management planning for Emma Open Space and the Emma Townsite property. Citizens are invited to provide their input as the planning effort begins.
These properties include the 12.5-acre Emma Townsite, which was acquired in 2008. It includes the historic Emma Store buildings along Highway 82 and an historic, Victorian home, along with Roaring Fork River frontage, a wetlands area and heritage fruit trees. It has also been home to a nesting pair of ospreys. On the opposite side of the highway, roughly 65 acres of open space was purchased in 2000. It has been used for agricultural purposes, including hay and potato production. The Rio Grande Trail cuts through the property. The old Emma Schoolhouse and adjacent parking lot are not part of the open space holdings.
“These properties are very visible from Highway 82, though passersby may not realize land to either side of the highway is open space,” said Lindsey Utter, planning and outreach manager for Open Space and Trails. “Certainly everyone sees the old store buildings. We’ve done work to keep them from collapsing, but this is the first time we’ve asked the public for ideas about what to do with them.
“The management plan won’t determine a specific use for the historic buildings, but it will start the discussion, given the challenges in repurposing them – the limited access off the highway, in particular,” Utter said.
The agricultural land that wraps around two sides of the old Emma Schoolhouse is currently leased to growers. Those leases will go out to bid this fall, potentially opening the property to proposed new agricultural uses.
More information on the Emma Open Space Management Plan is available at www.pitkinOSTprojects.com. Following the open house, comments will be accepted via the website through April 7th. A draft plan is expected to go to the Open Space and Trails Board of Trustees on April 20, followed by a second public comment period that will extend through June 9. Final adoption is expected in late June.