Bit of repetition on Eagle petitions
EAGLE, Colorado – Tucked in among the volumes of public comment included in the official public record for Eagle River Station are a couple of letters from community business owners.
One is a document opposing the development. One is a document supporting it. And there are a few cases of business owners’ names appearing on both letters.
But according to the dual signatories, the reasons why their names appear on both documents reflect timing and subtleties surrounding the Eagle River Station debate.
Eagle River Station is a retail/residential project proposed by Trinity/RED Development on an 88-acre tract at eastern end of Eagle, south of Interstate 70. The proposal includes 552,000 square feet of commercial space including a 132,000 square foot anchor Target store and a ‘Lifestyle Center’ shopping area. The development proposal also includes a 150-room hotel and 581 residential units along with a new Interstate 70 interchange.
On Nov. 4, the Eagle Town Board approved the proposal, conditioned upon it passing a citizen referendum. Eagle residents will go to the polls on Jan. 5 to decide the final fate of Eagle River Station.
The Citizens for the Future of Eagle is the grassroots group opposing Eagle River Station. As part of the town of Eagle’s public report concerning the development, the group submitted a petition from dozens of business owners that states the signatories “feel a large scale, massive lifestyle center on the outskirts of town, along with their own private interchange would be hugely detrimental to existing business who have invested in this town.”
The petition also outlined concerns that the proposed development does not fit with the community’s character or the Eagle Area Community Plan. It argues that the town and the business community can work together to find alternative ways to generate revenues without “sacrificing our small town values.”
On Nov. 4, a letter to Eagle Mayor Ed Woodland was submitted to the public record, signed by ten business owners. The letter was circulated by Vince Riggio of Trinity/RED Eagle and states “We believe Eagle River station will help us keep Eagle affordable and continue to have the charm and warmth that comes with living in a wonderful mountain community.”
The letter also urges the town board to pledge on-going, financial support for the central business district – the area on and around Broadway. It asked the town board to commit at least 15 percent of the revenues generated annually by Eagle River Station toward the improvement of the central business district.
Molly Hay, owner of Inkahoots, was one of the business owners who signed both documents. But by two weeks after the town board decision, she had donned a anti-Eagle River Station lapel button. She has withdrawn her support for the pro letter. Hay said her support was totally based on her desire to have some the Eagle River Station revenue, if the development is approved, earmarked for downtown.
“The way the letter was presented was as ‘if ERS goes through, will this make you happy?'” said Hay.
Hay said she was undecided about Eagle River Station until attending a recent meeting sponsored by Citizens for the Future of Eagle. After the session, Hay decided to become more active in the effort to defeat the proposal.
“We deserve much better than this proposal,” she said. “I’m not against development, just this development.”
Like Hay, the names Craig Colby of Broadway Liquors and Nate Picklo of Yeti’s Grind appear on both letters. But unlike Hay, both men say they are intentionally staying out of the Eagle River Station fray.
Yeti’s owners Nate and Tara Picklo emphatically state they are not taking a stand for or against Eagle River Station. They signed the support letter simply because they do want the town to direct revenue from the development, if approved, toward downtown.
“I wholeheartedly support a kickback to our downtown if it goes through,” said Tara Picklo.
As for his name on the anti-Eagle River Station petition, Picklo said he didn’t specifically remember signing it previously. He said he believes that petition is several months old.
“It represents a good, smart business move,” said Colby of his signature on the Eagle River Station support letter. “I thought long and hard when they approached me to sign it.”
He also emphasized that he is not taking a stand for or against the development beyond voicing his desire for the town to earmark some of the anticipated revenues toward downtown improvements.
As for his name on the anti-Eagle River Station petition, Colby said he simply didn’t sign it. “That’s not even my handwriting,” he said.