The town of Eagle is facing an important vote for the direction of its community, coming up on May 22. Normally, the town of Gypsum would not involve itself in such an important action by our neighbor to the east.
However, in the past few weeks our name has been brought up in numerous articles and op-ed pieces when no direct discussion with the town of Gypsum has occurred.
The first issue is the town of Gypsum has not had any contact with City Market or their parent company, Kroger, for several years.
We have contacted them since we read the same article the rest of the county read: "Eagle's City Market eyeing expansion plans" in the Vail Daily and "City Market mulls over move to Gypsum" in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.
The conversation was polite and what the town of Gypsum already knew still stands. City Market is not leaving Eagle to come to Gypsum. They do not have any plans in regard to a Gypsum location at this time.
We are not sure who started this rumor, but it is simply not true. Whether or not they desire to expand their current store in Eagle is a conversation best left between the town of Eagle and City Market, as it is none of our business.
What this rumor did accomplish is it raised some uncomfortable issues between our own local hometown grocer and our community that did not need to be raised. Columbine Market continues to serve the needs of the Gypsum community just fine, and we are happy to have them.
The second issue is in regard to Trinity RED submitting a bid on the Tower's Center as a "fallback" position if the vote doesn't pass in Eagle on May 22. What the articles fail to report is that three sealed bids were submitted and all were rejected. None of them were qualified bids.
This is from a direct conversation between the current owner of the Tower Center. (No, the Tower Center is not in foreclosure and in fact, the current owner remains a key player for commercial development in the future.)
The town of Gypsum has never even met any of the principals behind Trinity RED Development. If Gypsum were a viable "fallback" position for them, most developers would have wanted discussion with the town to make sure they understand all of the entitlement process in Gypsum. Gypsum has not had a single conversation with our purported new commercial developers. Wonder why?
The third issue relates to the revenue-sharing agreement itself. Yes, it is true that because of TABOR, it is only a year-to-year deal. Gypsum, nonetheless, has kept the deal in place for the past five years. In fact, it was put into place after Gypsum had already secured Costco as a major tenant, not before.
While the pie-chart breakdown in the latest article is not exactly accurate, it also fails to recognize it has netted the town of Eagle $1,339,866.10 to date. That number increases as the incentive package diminishes with Costco in 2013. Both communities will net more at the end of the day as business grows within the defined revenue-sharing boundary and as our incentive package goes away.
While Gypsum appears to be the bad guy in recent articles because we have a certain percentage of our sales tax collections specifically earmarked toward various line items as previously approved by our voters, when we entered into the revenue-sharing agreement that issue was understood clearly by both communities.
If the situation were reversed, there are earmarks with Eagle's own sales tax that would not be subject to sharing with Gypsum. We understood that and were still willing to move forward.
The concept of revenue sharing was always intended to keep from competing for limited sales-tax revenue in the western end of Eagle County. A winner-take-all attitude will always produce a loser and there is a chance for everyone to win rather than one town win and the other lose. We still believe an attitude of 50 percent of something (or even 40 percent of half the sales tax collected) is better than 100 percent of nothing.
Rest assured, there were no qualified bids on the Tower Center auction, nor is City Market closing its Eagle store and moving to Gypsum.
Thus, Eagle is left to decide its future on the merits of the project and not on unfounded rumors. That is all for the Eagle voters to decide, not Gypsum.
We don't have a dog in the fight nor do we want one. If Eagle residents feel "yes" is the best vote, that is fine. If the answer is "no," that is fine.
That is democracy in local government at its finest. Gypsum just wants to be left out of the fray. We have our own issues and our own town to work with.
At the end of it all, Eagle is still our closest neighbor, hosting the county seat, the fairgrounds, the pool and ice rink and the WECMRD ball fields that our residents all enjoy. The common ground and need for cooperation and sharing facilities are and always will be the foundation of the relationship between the two towns.
We look forward to working with the new town of Eagle trustees the same as we enjoyed working with their past trustees. None of that changes regardless of what happens on May 22.
We wish you all the best with the coming vote. Pass or fail, we are still here willing to discuss our commonalities and ways to make the western end of Eagle County even better.
Publisher's note: The sources of stories about City Market wishing to expand and RED bidding on Tower Center property were the Eagle Town Board; RED's top Eagle River Station representative, Jeff McMahon; Jim McDonnell, the executive director of Sheldon Good, the real estate company hired to auction the Tower Center property; and City Market executives. The source of the pie chart referenced was the town of Gypsum. We consider these all to be legitimate sources and the information newsworthy.