Eagle County commissioners met with Western Eagle County Metropolitan District board members on Tuesday and considered what the future holds for the two entities.
WECMRD Director Steve Russell identified two key concerns for the rec district. The first was a question about how soon the county anticipates moving the baseball fields at the fairgrounds in Eagle. The other concern has to do with the gravel parking lot at Freedom Park in Edwards.
Regarding the ball fields, Russell said WECMRD is considering putting in artificial turf there.
"The turf can be moved but we don't want to put it in only to have to move it next year," he said. "We're wondering when the county is planning to move the fields. If it's not for another five years or so, then we might go ahead with the improvements."
The county negotiated a deal in 2006 with LaFarge, a gravel mining company, to move the fields onto a reclaimed area nearby and allow the company to mine where the fields are currently located. The county anticipated revenue from the deal offsetting the cost of moving the ball fields but that's not the case anymore.
"At first it was thought that we might even have enough money to move the fields and have revenue left over but things have changed," said Commissioner Jon Stavney.
Eagle County Public Works Director Tom Johnson agreed.
"Construction has slowed and there's not as much of a market for the gravel anymore," he said. "They're still using gravel that they mined two years ago."
The county is now looking at a funding gap of about $1.7 million or more for moving the fields, depending on the extent of any upgrades associated with the new ones. That factor combined with the county's increasingly tight budget puts the ballfield move on hold indefinitely, Stavney said.
Commissioners agreed that a move is probably three to five years away.
"I would be encouraging of moving forward with the improvements you want to do," Stavney told Russell.
Regarding the gravel parking lot at Freedom Park in Edwards, the WECMRD board members said it is becoming a safety concern.
"Those facilities are seeing heavy use and the parking lot is often full, disorganized and full of pot holes," Russell said, pointing out that a paved lot with lines would make parking more efficient and improve people's view of the facilities and the county.
"There are also some young drivers who spin their tires and do donuts, which shoots gravel around," Russell added. "The gravel lot is a common complaint we get but it's the county's land."
Stavney acknowledged the issue but said the lot is not an immediate priority for the county.
"We don't want to pave the lot until we figure out what we're doing with the rest of the property," he said. "There are several possibilities for that land and we don't want to preempt any of them for a parking lot."
Ultimately, the commissioners and WECMRD board members agreed to have more conversations about the issue and hopefully arrive at a compromise.