I feel I must question some statements made in the recent Vail Daily article promoting Eagle River Station. Let's be honest, this piece was probably more appropriate as an editorial rather than front page news. In particular, claiming the $60 million in infrastructure costs necessary for the project, including a new interchange and roundabouts, as public benefits is dubious at best. These primarily benefit the development itself and adjacent properties, which would suddenly become prime commercial land. Any notion of improving traffic issues in Eagle would be negated by the forecasted 30,000 additional daily vehicle trips this nightmare would generate.
If Eagle's goal as a town is to retain small-town character, a new interchange which literally paves the way for massive amounts of autocentric development like ERS and beyond is a direct conflict. In fact it's the antithesis of small-town character.
Eagle can meet its fiscal needs without such sprawling strip malls designed for city folk, or manufacturing yet a third "main street."
Let's consider for a moment more appropriately scaled development opportunities. Allow Eagle Ranch's Capital District to develop. Continue to promote Broadway redevelopment. Tie Chambers to Highway 6 with some live-work-commercial-industrial uses. Capitalize on the fairgrounds property, and-or west Eagle redevelopment, which could integrate the historic downtown and bowling alley to the river and create unique recreation opportunities through various portals. A whitewater park, ball fields, and hiking-biking-fishing trails could be supported by locally-owned shops and restaurants.
Even a unique box store like Cabela's or Whole Foods could be a compatible anchor sales tax generator, while sharing parking and supporting community events.
Additional public benefits and innovative designs which celebrate both our western heritage and recreation-tourism based economy could be incorporated into something that creates true local economic development rather than chain-store cannibalism.
Are there challenges to such plans? Yep. Does it take time and money? Yes sir. Is Eagle worth it? Every penny.
I've ridden my bike across this great country of ours three times and I can tell you that the homogenization of small town USA is one of our country's greatest recent tragedies.
Let's use some common sense and ingenuity to develop an economic plan that meets our fiscal needs while celebrating Eagle's values and unique small-town mountain lifestyle.