I'm writing this letter to voice my concerns regarding the proposed Eagle River Station east of Eagle, which is so far beyond the scale of what would be appropriate for our town there's no way to fit it under the umbrella of "small-town character."
The No. 1 land use would be large slabs of asphalt. Lots of it. Pave paradise and put up a parking lot? You got it. But first you'll have to pay for it.
Taxpayers are to pay for the infrastructure for this hypercommercialism-meets-Disney theme park through additional PIFs and/or sales taxes on the property. Instead of the town getting the sales tax it needs for other community needs, most of the taxes generated over 20 years from this project will go directly toward the new east Eagle Interstate 70 interchange, which is a primary access and benefit to the developer " on your dime. Even aside the fact that malls and "lifestyle centers" are going bankrupt at unprecedented rates across the country, even if it's successful, any way you shake it, this is a bad deal for the town. Traffic and affordable housing will worsen rather than improve. Existing tax base from local businesses will be cannibalized rather than elevated. If we have to sell our soul, I'd hope we'd at least get something for it.
Well, hang on a minute: There's no gun to our head. Eagle deserves better than this. A comprehensive home-grown economic plan for the town will help us answer, first of all, where we want to go, and second, how we get there.
I'd expect the outcomes of such a process to identify responsible economic development which is truly symbiotic and focuses on growing the pie rather than just cutting it up differently. I'd expect opportunities to be identified which incorporate unique, local small-town character, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented development which is visionary and innovative in nature, ties into our existing community center and respects open space, agriculture and wildlife. I'd expect something that belongs in Eagle and celebrates our values.
I mean, if we have to call open space "blight," turn it into more national franchises, kick the elk out, close local businesses, create parking lots big enough to land planes on and pay for a whole new interchange just so we can call ourselves "Anywhere USA" where the streets are the same but maybe the names are different, maybe this isn't the right project for Eagle. In fact, it's the very definition of sprawl. And exactly the thing we moved here to get away from.