The Town of Estes Park is considering the purchase of parcels on Prospect Mountain to preserve open space and ensure public access to "The Thumb and Needle," two prominent rock spires that have been used by climbers and hikers for half a century. Access to the Thumb and Needle currently occurs at the discretion of the private landowner. This access could be lost with the sale of the property to a new owner. If it proceeds, the Town's purchase would include an amended conservation easement by the Estes Valley Land Trust that protects open space and preserves access for hiking and climbing. A presentation and facilitated conversation is scheduled for the general community Dec. 3 at 4:30 p.m. in the Town Board Room of Town Hall. The meeting will be streamed and recorded via www.estes.org/videos.

For interested individuals who cannot attend, a conceptual plan for the use and management of the proposed open space is available for review at www.estes.org/parks. Please email comments and questions to publicworks@estes.org by Dec. 5.

Additional steps in this process include a neighborhood meeting which took place Nov. 13, a Nov. 26 Town Board study session to review the concept and public feedback to-date, and a Dec. 10 Town Board meeting, where public comment is encouraged, for a potential decision on whether or not to proceed with the project in 2020. If the board wishes to proceed, both a 2019 resolution to support the project and approval of $241,700 in local funding in the 2020 budget are required to obtain a $350,000 GOCO grant necessary to complete the purchase.

If the project proceeds, funding and in-kind contributions for the property purchase and trail/parking improvements would be provided by the Town of Estes Park, the Access Fund, Estes Valley Land Trust, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy and the potential GOCO grant. If the project proceeds and all funding is acquired, the Town and Land Trust will continue to engage the community as a detailed land management plan is developed. For more information, please visit www.estes.org/parks or contact the Public Works Department at publicworks@estes.org or 970-577-3587.

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