Can Eagle County open space money be better spent?
Boards: Eagle County Commissioners, Eagle County Open Space Advisory Committee.
What they talked about: The two boards met to talk about what the commissioners expect from the open space committee, and, by extension, how to take advantage of opportunities to buy land in today’s down market.
What was the main thrust? Some open space committee members lobbied for a full-time director for the program. That person would actively seek out landowners who might be willing to either sell their land outright or sell an “easement” that would essentially prohibit any future development.
While the county’s budget is stretched thin for the foreseeable future, there’s more than $15 million in the open space fund, which is paid for through a special property tax approved by voters. County attorneys believe a director could be paid from those funds.
Is that going to happen? Not right now. The commissioners said they aren’t necessarily opposed to the idea, but that the idea of hiring a director needs more work and planning.
Open space committee member Joe LeBeau cautioned the commissioners against waiting too long, though.
“We’ve got an opportunity here,” LeBeau said. “We don’t know how long this window’s going to be open.”