Eagle considers upping $500,000 contribution to Brush Creek open space deal | VailDaily.com
Pam Boyd
pboyd@eaglevalleyenterprise.com

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Eagle considers upping $500,000 contribution to Brush Creek open space deal

EAGLE — The town of Eagle is ready to take on its part of the Hardscrabble Ranch open space purchase.

In fact, the town is looking at upping the amount it contributes from $500,000 to $600,000, with an additional caveat that if 2017 proves to be a good bed tax and sales tax year, Eagle will consider increasing that amount.

Earlier this week, the Eagle County commissioners agreed to lead the effort to collect $16 million for the 1,540-acre ranch property located in the Brush Creek Valley south of Eagle. The county pledged $9 million from its open space fund for the project. The people working on the deal figure the remaining $7 million will come from various sources, including Great Outdoors Colorado/Colorado Lottery ($3.1 million), Eagle Ranch Wildlife Committee ($700,000), Eagle County Wildlife Impact Fund ($775,000), the Eagle Valley Land Trust ($500,000) and others. The list of potential funding partners included the town of Eagle at the $500,000 mark, but the county subsequently requested an additional $200,000 from Eagle.

Tuesday night, Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight told members of the town board that it would be possible to fund the additional $200,000 from Eagle's open space fund, but that would draw down the fund total to around $19,000.

"We are obviously pretty strapped right now," Staight said. "We won't be doing much of anything but treading water for awhile."

Funding alternatives

Staight offered a series of other alternatives for Eagle — everything from sticking with the $500,00 donation to funding the additional $200,000 from a variety of town sources. Members of the town board favored more of a wait-and-see plan.

Town board member Scott Turnipseed noted that because the county is currently at work securing funding for the ranch purchase, the actual shortfall is hard to pinpoint right now. He said it's somewhere between $1.3 million and $2.7 million as the county reaches out to private individuals and local groups to help fund the purchase.

Eagle County Open Space Director Toby Sprunk concurred.

"I am looking for someone with very big pockets to come in and write a big check," Sprunk said.

In the absence of that scenario, Sprunk said he is open to any proposals that can help seal the Hardscrabble Ranch deal.

Town officials said they are enthusiastic supporters of the Hardscrabble Ranch purchase effort, noting that an extensive residential-golf development was formerly proposed. Former owner Fred Kummer, of HBE Corp. in Saint Louis eyed the property as party of his massive Adam's Rib project prior to selling his Brush Creek land holdings to Denver-based Brue Capitol two years ago.

As the town board mulled their donation options, Eagle County Historical Society president Kathy Heicher spoke to the board about the property's historical importance.

"That ranch up there played a role in the start of an agricultural presence in Eagle, and Eagle was a ranching community for more than 80 years," Heicher said.