Plans for riverfront park moving forward in Eagle | VailDaily.com

Plans for riverfront park moving forward in Eagle

Pam Boyd
pboyd@eaglevalleyenterprise.com

EAGLE — As election day approaches, when Eagle residents will make the final decision about funding a proposed river park, town officials and project planners are honing in on what the park will look like and what it will cost.

The ambitious Eagle River Park plan envisions a new amenity both in and along the river at a current truck parking site just east of the Eagle County Fairgrounds. The town has hired S20, a whitewater design company, to plan various river features to attract boaters, kayakers and tubers. A riverfront park would be built to include passive and active recreation amenities, trails and a river beach area.

All told, the project will likely cost upwards of $10 million. The town is presenting a sales tax increase ballot question to the voters on April 5 that would generate an estimated $5.2 million to begin the work and provide a matching funds source to attract grant dollars.

But cost estimates for the first phase of the Eagle River Park improvements tally a bit more than the tax will generate.

“It has always been our assumption that we should go out for grants and find additional funding partners. Not all of this will come out of the town’s pockets.”Anne McKibbinTown Board member

There are three primary projects planned as part of the first phase development. They include:

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• In-stream and riverbank improvements — $1.5 million.

• Riverside park development — $3.2 million.

• Riverbank improvements and trail connections — $900,000.

That adds up to roughly $5.6 million

Setting priorities

If the town has to cut anything from the plan, staff members have prioritized the in-stream, riverbank and riverside park projects. But members of the Eagle Town Board have indicated it's too early in the process to start chopping away at planned improvements.

Members noted that the plan is still a working document and that the public hasn't yet weighed in on what is proposed.

"It seems a little premature to be cutting things out of it already," Town Board member Andy Jessen said.

"It has always been our assumption that we should go out for grants and find additional funding partners. Not all of this will come out of the town's pockets," said Town Board member Anne McKibbin.

Members also noted that cutting the trail connection part of the plan wouldn't be advisable.

"The in-stream stuff and the trail are the priority things. I don't want to be in the position that this little chunk is the one piece of trail left undone between Gypsum and Horn Ranch," said McKibbin.

Hitting the mark

Dan Woolley of S20 updated the Town Board last week about the overall river plan.

He noted the project objective is to design and build "a very nice facility that will pull people into the town and into the water park."

While the whitewater park features are at the center of the planning effort, Woolley stressed that is only one component of the plan.

"The real target season in the whitewater park is about three months. The rest of the season will be tubing," Woolley said.

"Is there anything in our design that nobody else has yet?" asked Jessen.

Woolley responded that the overall park experience, both in the river and on the riverbank, will make Eagle's park special.

"What really sets this one apart is the level of design that has gone into it," he said.

Additionally, Woolley said the Eagle park will have four good waves, versus just one. That's a big plus, he noted, and it represents the very latest thinking in whitewater park design.

"I don't think anyone has really hit the mark on a whitewater park yet," said Woolley.

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