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April 17, 2013
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Eagle Town Board: Let's reconsider the Haymeadow bike trail proposal

Note: Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd was unavailable to respond by press time regarding this letter, which questions last week's Eagle Town Board meeting when the trustees approved $60,000 for building a bike trail on property owned by Haymeadow developers. The trail is intended to be used for the Colorado High School Cycling League State Championship. Eagle Town Board will consider a contract associated with the trail decision at the board's April 23 meeting.

- Derek Franz, Enterprise reporter

After reading a recent news story about the proposed bike trail on the Haymeadow property, I have a few questions and comments. The article states the trail will be built on private property but it is anticipated that the trail property will be deeded to the town as open space. It is my understanding the Haymeadow project is still in the review stage and there are no approvals or agreements giving the town or the landowner any vesting of this trail property as being town open space. The questions are raised from my perspective as the former Open Space Coordinator for the town, a professional wildlife biologist and concerned citizen.

The article is not clear on the source of funding for the $60,000 approved for trail construction. Will the money come from the town's general fund or the town's open space fund? If the source is the open space fund, I question the legitimacy of that expenditure. The ballot question for the occupation tax approved by Eagle voters in April, 1996, specifies: "Tax to be used exclusively for the preservation of agricultural lands and for acquisition, maintenance and management of land and easements in and around the town of Eagle for open space buffer zones, trails within open space areas, wildlife habitats and wetland preservation."

I would draw attention to the use of the words "exclusively" and "trails within open space areas." To me, the word "exclusively" specifies that expenditures derived from this Occupation Tax must adhere to the ballot language. The term "trails within open space areas" doesn't seem to fit or support the location of the proposed bike trail.

I also have concerns with the compatibility of this trail and the deer and elk that use this area. The area where the trail is to be located is important wildlife habitat. Recreational use of these areas can have a severe impact on wildlife. What mitigation measures are being considered to offset these impacts? Will there be seasonal use restrictions placed on the use of this trail? Will dogs be allowed on the trail? If so, can they be off leash? Who will enforce trail restrictions since this land is currently in the county?

For a number of years the town leaders have expressed a desire to adopt a formal process for fully investigating issues and concerns prior to approving and establishing recreational trails. This proposed bike trail appears to have skirted this process. Whatever happened to the mayor's push for "consistency and transparency?"

Bill Heicher

Eagle


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 17, 2013 12:32PM Published Apr 17, 2013 12:32PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.