Neighbors both eye Cozy Point expansion
In the early stages of a land management plan for Cozy Point open space, the city of Aspen is attempting to reconcile the needs of an equestrian facility, sustainable farm, recreation enthusiasts and native wildlife.
The future Cozy Point Open Space sits on 400 acres — a combination of city and county owned land on both sides of Highway 82 leading up to and including the Intercept parking lot.
A recent open house seeking input for a master operating plan featured large scale aerial maps and blank rolls of paper for brainstorming sessions.
“It’s really apparent that a lot of people realize that this is a very very important piece of property for our community,” said Austin Weiss, the city’s open space manager. “Certainly we’ve heard very passionate opinions from both equestrians along with agricultural voices from up and down the valley”
Patti Watson is the manager at the Cozy Point Ranch equestrian center. She has been with the organization for almost its entire 20 years. She is currently on a year-to-year lease with the city as the land management plan progresses.Though Cozy Point Ranch is a private business, she said it provides a public service that should continue to be supported.
“There is really a lot going on right now, if that were to somehow go away it would really be a big dent in the community,” she said.
Sustaining or expanding the equestrian facilities starts to raise safety issues that would need to be addressed if other uses come into the fold as well.
AspenTREE has been next to Cozy Point Ranch since 2011. Executive Director Eden Vardy has his own schematics drawn up for the future use of the property. It includes expanding the farming to areas he said are not being used by anybody right now, allowing for a better rotation of crops and animals, expanded educational space, and the potential for a fresh-food market supplied by farmers throughout the valley and open to the public and local chefs.
While AspenTREE and its expansion are a “public” park open 24/7 to anyone, Weiss said the management plan gets sticky with interests that interfere with the for-profit Cozy Point Ranch.
“I think if we came to the table with a really large food production agricultural component that had a really strong negative effect on the equestrian side that could become problematic,” said Weiss.
Back at the open house, Mike Cuseo, a board member of the Roaring Fork Food Alliance who came to see the land management presentation, says he thinks there is space for a beneficial compromise.
“If it's managed properly and if this plan is formed with all the parties in mind, I think there is enough space there for there to be two successful operations there side by side,” said Cuseo.