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Build up downtown Eagle instead of Eagle River Station

Chris Wilkens
Eagle, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

I am not opposed to development, as my profession and business in structural engineering can attest. But I must side with the residents

of Eagle who oppose the Eagle River Station development.

Eagle is arguably the only town in the entire valley that has a true “downtown” in the traditional sense. This is a very special asset. Reading the numerous letters that have already appeared in this newspaper, it is the pride of Eagle. And it should be. Great small towns all across this country have something in common: a thriving main street or “downtown” area.

Other towns in our valley are lacking this type of community core, but they recognize the need for it. Some are undertaking major redevelopment efforts specifically to create it. But here in Eagle, we already have it! It is Broadway (and the immediate surrounding streets).

So why are we flirting with urban sprawl? Why are we considering developing the same shopping malls that our neighboring towns already have when we are fortunate to have the downtown that they really want?

Rather than ERS or anything similar, Eagle needs infill development. Let’s make use of the downtown-area footprint that already exists. It is a fantastic asset. The area surrounding Broadway, Second and Third streets and Grand Avenue could become a thriving downtown district and community core.

“Downtown Eagle” could become a central destination where people go to dine, shop, conduct business and spend time, where activity exists every day and night. The location is

central and accessible, includes the historic aspect of downtown and is close to other existing town assets such as the park, amphitheater and fairgrounds.

It is understood that Eagle is in great need of a financial boost by a larger tax base. However, a generic, sprawling development is not the only option. Eagle can greatly increase its retail and business market share without expanding the town footprint and changing its character. Most Eagle residents would likely agree that a revitalized downtown scenario is far more preferable than ERS.

So how do we get there? The town of Eagle needs to make it clear to developers and businesses (both current and prospective) that its focus and investment will be toward the revitalization of downtown, not in sprawl.

Eagle already put this ball in motion when it constructed the new city building and updated the infrastructure along Broadway. There has recently been privately funded redevelopment of the 217 Broadway building and the Brush Creek building. Let’s continue to embrace infill development around the downtown area ” the type of development that communicates with the style, pace and character of Eagle.

Eagle is at a crossroads. The decision whether to allow ERS will irrevocably impact the character of our town. Let’s not build what our neighboring communities already have (and in some cases regret). Let’s not mortgage the character of Eagle solely for the alleged financial benefit of this proposal. Let’s instead invest in and capitalize on the desirable attribute that is already in place: downtown Eagle.

Chris Wilkens

Eagle


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