Your community connector

Crystal Caucus: Wild and Scenic and Redstone Castle monopolize meeting

Locations: News Published

Residents, officials and board members gathered at the Church at Redstone for the bimonthly Crystal River Caucus meeting.

Among those in attendance was Kayo Ogilby, a member of the Crystal Wild and Scenic Coalition and “one of hundreds of local citizens who support the efforts of a large group of organizations working to secure one common goal: a free flowing future for the Crystal River,” he said.

  • KDNK thumbnail

Ogilby emphasized that the Crystal River is threatened “today more than ever.” 

“Colorado currently has 24 trans-mountain diversions, sending 560,000 acre-feet per year from the Western Slope to the Front Range,” he continued. “Our state also has an obligation to send 3,750,000 acre-feet, or 1.2 trillion gallons per year, downstream to the Lower Basin states — allocations we are clearly struggling to meet.” 

  • Carbondale Animal Hospital thumbnail

Today, 40 million people depend on the Colorado River’s water supply. “Some estimates predict that it will one day be asked to support twice that population,” Ogiliby added. 

He noted that Colorado’s population is projected to nearly double by 2050, increasing dependence, particularly on the Front Range. “Where will this water be sought? Where the water is: Colorado’s Western Slope.” 

  • Dave Taylor thumbnail

Ogilby gave a brief historical overview of efforts in the past to dam the Crystal. “The Crystal River remains one of the very few large streams in our state that still has neither a dam nor a trans-mountain/trans-basin diversion. It’s long been a target.” 

In 1956, the Colorado River Storage Protection Act was passed. “On the Crystal River, the legislation prioritized planning for a major dam and trans-basin diversion project, the specter of which would haunt the Crystal for the next 55 years.” By 1957, there were proposals on the table for the Placita and Osgood dams. In 1982, the plans were put on hold for financial reasons.

  • RJ PADDY thumbnail

“In 2011, project owners shocked the Crystal River with new maps showing Osgood and Placita reservoirs as real possibilities once again,” Ogiliby lamented. “Fortunately, an organized community opposition paired with unfavorable economics won the day.”

In 2013, the developers and the opposition reached an agreement. The developers kept their water rights, but gave up a lot of their project rights. “The last line of their [the developers] press release [at the time] stated, ‘The settlement preserves the opportunity for the developers to file new junior water rights, both storage and direct-flow rights, in the future,’” read Ogiliby. 

  • Film Festival thumbnail

“There’s only one way to permanently prevent the possibility of a federally decreed dam on a river, and that’s a preceding federal act to protect it,” he stated.

The Crystal River was determined eligible for Wild and Scenic. Currently, the coalition is undergoing the second step: determining whether or not designation is “suitable” for the river and its community. The third step would be a congressional decree. 

The Wild and Scenic Feasibility Collaborative is currently playing out the suitability process. 

Ogiliby said that people can visit for more information. 

Redstone Castle
Stephane De Baets, who purchased the Redstone Castle in March 2022, appeared at the caucus along with Glen Horn, a veteran planner in the Valley.

Horn represented the previous owner in an effort to change the castle’s zoning designation to “village lodge preservation,” as recommended by the 1990 Redstone Master Plan. That designation was finally achieved in 2018. 

“The process that we’re in is to amend that master plan, to change the concept for the use of the property from what it was approved for in 2018,” explained Horn. 

The concept is to turn the castle into a wellness-longevity retreat, not meant for day use but for stays of five or six days. De Baets and his partners operate a similar resort in Bangkok, Thailand and are opening another in Tuscany, Italy in September. 

The proposal includes building four cabins and cottages for guests (three bedroom cabins and two bedroom cottages), which were already approved under the previous plan. The wellness center would operate out of the castle, carriage house and the barn (which would be converted into an hydro-aquatic therapy facility); none of which would have overnight accommodations for guests. 

“That’s probably the most significant change in the use of the structures, is that guests won’t actually be in the carriage house or the castle,” explained Horn. 

The proposal includes building two employee apartment complexes, each with eight two-bedroom units, as well as a greenhouse. 

The previous plan included the approval to hold up to 35 special events during the non-winter months to bring in income. “That’s really not a part of the proposal now,” said Horn. Public historic tours, however, would continue on the property.

The proposal will be reviewed by Pitkin County Planning & Zoning in the next few months, according to Horn, and then will go to the commissioners for a final review.

Tags: #Crystal Caucus #Crystal River #Kayo Ogilby #Redstone Castle #Stephane De Baets #Wild and Scenic
▲Top ▲Top