Derek Franz

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February 20, 2013
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County eyes 2013 capital projects

Eagle County is rethinking its 2013 capital improvement budget in light of some unexpected building maintenance and the latest price tag for Eagle River Center upgrades.

Commissioners met with County Controller Tom Hyatt and Facilities Project Manager Ron Siebert for a CIP budget work session on Tuesday.

Hyatt said the CIP budget is anticipating an income of $4.6 million over the next 12 months, with $2.8 million received by June.

"The total cost for the projects identified in this budget as the No. 1 priorities is $2.8 million, so I'm asking for approval to spend the money we expect to receive in the first six months of the year," he told commissioners.

A mandatory $1.637 million debt service payment on the Eagle County Justice Center that was built in 2010 takes a hefty chunk out of the budget right away, as it will for the next 17 years.

"That leaves us with roughly $3 million a year as discretionary funds," Hyatt said.

After going through all the items, prioritized in four categories, with the No. 1 category being most important and No. 4 being the least, the commissioners identified eight projects to set aside for more study.

Roof repairs for the administration and facilities maintenance buildings throw a $500,000 bone into the budget. The slate shingles are falling off and causing a safety hazard. The $500K would cover their replacement but there's another problem - the water shield underneath the copper valleys on the roof has melted in spots, making the roof more vulnerable to leaks.

"So the question is, do we do a half-million dollars of work reshingling the roof, knowing that underneath there might be a layer that's compromised?" Commissioner Jon Stavney said.

"That's correct," Siebert said.

Other No. 1 items that will get a further consideration in coming weeks are asphalt rehab at the county's maintenance service center for $255,000 and new bucking chutes at the fairgrounds rodeo arena for $50,000.

Stavney told Siebert to investigate the cost and feasibility of doing away with the asphalt at the MSC.

"If it ends up being about the same, we'll go with the asphalt but it seems like gravel would be much cheaper and the asphalt doesn't seem necessary," he said.

As for the bucking chutes, Siebert said the rodeo arena has been using temporary ones that are rusting and could be a hazard. Commissioner Sara Fisher suggested the county might find sponsors for new chutes. Stavney said the problem with that is that it could take away from the county's fair and rodeo budget.

"As it is now, we get those sponsors every year and we hang their banners on the gates," he said. "If they buy the new chutes and have their logos on there permanently, they might not have an incentive to sponsor the event each year."

No. 2 items getting closer inspection are a $75,000 market analysis for the potential expansion of the Eagle River Center and pavement rehab on the north side of the Justice Center for $342,000.

The county paid $30,000 last year for a consultant to draft some concept designs to make ERC more profitable. Located at the fairgrounds, ERC is popular for horse enthusiasts and hosts a few events every year. The facility is heavily subsidized, but with a series of upgrades it has the potential to generate more business and increase county sales tax revenues to offset the subsidy. The county anticipated investing $3 million for those upgrades but was told by the consultant in January that the cost would be closer to $7 million for the first phase of improvements alone. The $75,000 market analysis was recently proposed to give the county a better idea if that $7 million would really be worth it. On Tuesday the commissioners agreed it was not prudent to spend $75,000 when there is no chance the expensive ERC upgrades will be made in the foreseeable future.

"I do think we should start putting money aside for the upgrades," Stavney said. "Why don't we put the $75,000 toward that instead of another study?"

As for the north parking lot at the Justice Center, county staff will take another look but the general consensus is that it could probably wait.

"This isn't U.S. Highway 6 we're talking about," Stavney said.

The high cost is due to the fact that the lot must be entirely rebuilt with new road base.

No. 3 priority items being reconsidered are $475,000 for phase I and II of the bike path being built between Gypsum and Dotsero, and a partnership with the town of Eagle on a study for upgrades to Grand Avenue.

Noting that the ECO Trail system is trying to finish the bike path through the entire length of the I-70 corridor through Eagle County within a 20-year time frame, Stavney suggested it might be time to take the funding issue to the voters.

"Maybe we should see if voters will approve spending open space funds on this," he suggested.

Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell, who has also been involved with the ECO Trail project, said now could be a good time to do that.

Powell was present to ask the county to consider chipping in $150,000 this year and next for a study of Grand Avenue. The study will cost $1 million over the next two years and the work itself will cost approximately $15 million.

"We're asking entities that contribute traffic on Grand Avenue/Highway 6 to partner with us on this study," he said. "We're asking the airport, the town of Gypsum and the Haymeadow developers. Advance planning locally will help us get a partnership with the Colorado Department of transportation."

Powell told commissioners he didn't need a yes or a no on the $150K at this time.

"We probably won't need it until the fall, so just keep that in the back of your minds," he said.

Two more projects the county will consider are splitting the $600,000 cost of a parking lot at Freedom Park in Edwards with the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District and kicking an extra $50,000 to build a sidewalk along Stone Creek Drive in Eagle-Vail.

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The VailDaily Updated Feb 20, 2013 01:07PM Published Feb 20, 2013 01:06PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.