Revised Eagle River Park plan includes buffer between public/private lands | VailDaily.com

Revised Eagle River Park plan includes buffer between public/private lands

EAGLE — The town of Eagle has debuted its new plan for the $8 million Eagle River Park, and it shows the entrance and eastern boundary development moved off of private land.

The Eagle River Park is a new amenity planned at the current truck parking area owned by Eagle County at the eastern boundary of the Eagle County Fairgrounds. In the spring of 2016, Eagle voters approved a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund park improvements in town, including the development of the river park project.

According to Eagle Assistant Town Planner Morgan Landers, the new design was unveiled during the River Jam and Eagle Outside Festival events.

The plan change came after Phyllis Johnson and Harlan House, owners of the 7.5-acre former Barnes Ranch property, emphatically asserted their property is not for sale and protested that the Eagle River Park design encroached upon their land. The Barnes Ranch extends from the southern side of the Eagle River, across the riverbed and through the eastern edge of the current parking area, where the river park is proposed. The ranch encompasses the ground where the existing fairgrounds parking area entrance is located and extends next to the Chambers Park entry. In early artist renderings and conceptual plans for the river park, the land was earmarked for construction of a bike path and future pedestrian bridge connection.

The new plan calls out a swath of "private property" on the eastern end of the park with a landscape buffer separating the two uses.

plan changes

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Johnson family members confirmed the new plan does not include the private property and said they are working with town representatives on the property line buffer.

According to Landers, the changes to the plan that resulted from the private property issue have not meant cutting amenities. She said the plan still includes a bathroom facility, pavilion, activity lawn, boulder climbing area and more. The number of parking places has been reduced, as the path connecting the park to Chambers Park has been removed from private property.

"Last weekend was a great opportunity to reach out to people," Landers said. She noted that during the River Jam and Outside Festival events, more people were able to see the plan and provide comments than attended the recent public meetings dedicated to the Eagle River Park project.

"Overall, the feedback to the plan has been very positive," Landers said. "A lot of people continue to be excited that Eagle is broadening its recreational opportunities."

In particular, Landers said public comments about the plan have noted that "natural" feel of the park.

"There's not a lot of concrete or hard surfaces proposed," Landers said. She said the design is focused on the natural river environment at the site.

The river plan does have its critics, however. A spirited debate about the proposal was waged on Facebook this week, with more than 200 people voicing concerns about the project and vowing to bring their issues before the Eagle Town Board.

As for the park process, work is slated to begin this winter on the in-stream features, while the upland park work will being next summer. Landers said after unveiling the concept plan last weekend, the design firm will take the plan from the 30 percent complete level to the 60 percent complete level. Those drawings should be done by the end of July.

"We will start to see a lot more detail then," Landers said.

Weigh in online

The comment period for the new $8 million Eagle River Park is open through June 14. To weigh in on the proposal, visit http://www.eagleoutside.com/riverpark.

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