A thousand homes in Wolcott? | VailDaily.com

A thousand homes in Wolcott?

Preston Utley/Vail DailySheep graze along a fence Wednesday in Wolcott. County residents and officials are beginning to image how intensively the mostly empty land will be developed.

WOLCOTT ” The sheep pastures of Wolcott remain a throwback to the days before skiing came to Eagle County.

But Steve Jouflas, whose ranching family has owned most of Wolcott’s valley floor for almost 70 years, said he knows it can’t stay that way.

“If you look at evolution of the county, it’s not a place for agriculture any more,” Jouflas said.

Unincorporated Wolcott ” in a valley of several hundred acres along the interstate between the growing towns of Edwards and Eagle ” will be home to more people in the coming years, Jouflas said.

But his family wants Wolcott to become a community where locals can afford to live, he said.

“The land has sustained us for generations,” said Jouflas, who now lives in Golden. “It’s important for us that the land sustains other people, maybe in a different way.”

Jouflas said his family doesn’t want to see all second-home owners in Wolcott.

The Jouflases are working with the county to create a plan for what Wolcott will grow into.

With hundreds of acres of undeveloped, flat land in the center of the valley ” almost all owned by one family that’s willing to work with the county ” some call it a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

“We really want Wolcott to be a posterchild of good development,” said Cliff Simonton, a planner with the county.

County planners have developed three scenarios for Wolcott:

– A “rural center,” with about one-third of the valley floor developed. It would have 500 to 800 homes, with open space remaining the “dominant feature.”

– A “community center,” with about half the valley floor developed and 800 to 1,200 homes. There would also be open space and parks.

– A “town center,” with almost all of the valley floor developed and 1,200-1,600 homes. There would be a high-density “downtown” area as well as parks, trails and some open space.

All of the plans would include an elementary school.

Wolcott was founded in 1886 under the name Russell. It flourished in the early 20th century as a cattle shipping center, growing to include dance halls, a school, a hotel, a store, a saloon and a blacksmith shop, according to Dick Hauserman’s book “On the Road to Vail and Beyond.”

Dave Mott, who lives near Wolcott, said if he had it his way, Wolcott would stay as it is. But he understands that its development is inevitable, he said, especially now that a water plant is in the works there.

Wolcott should grow into “something we can be proud of,” Mott said.

“Something that has quality to it and yet fulfills the needs of Eagle County, as well,” he said.

What he doesn’t want is for Wolcott to turn into a truck stop or a roadside motel, he said.

It’s a “fabulous opportunity” for Eagle County to use all of the lessons it has learned as the county has grown over the last few decades, Mott said.

“Let’s put all this experience to work and do something really special at Wolcott,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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