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Changing school proposal irks Avon neighborhood

Christine Ina Casillas
The developer of the Village at Avon, which includes the Wal-Mart Supercenter and The Home Depot, is seeking to make some adjustments to the project.
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Plans to relocate an elementary school at the Village at Avon have a group of Eaglebend mothers pretty fired up.

But any decision on a proposal to move the school farther from Interstate 70 and add more homes has been postponed by the Avon Town Council until Oct. 14.

“The school should be located where the kids are,” said Avon resident Kathleen Walsh.

Initially, the school was planned for a site next to the new full-diamond interchange. But because the school district said the safety of the kids could be at risk in that location, the developer, Traer Creek LLC, wanted to move the school farther east, north of the Eagle River and behind Paddy’s Bar and Grill.

But neighboring parents voiced concerns about a school that was located too far away from residential neighborhoods and wondered how the kids were going to get to school.

“The school district wanted the school on that site,” said Shane Bohart, vice president of development for Traer Creek LLC.

Other parents said there was more of a safety issue with a school closer to the river.

“I’m an Eaglebend mom and my concern is with my kids,” said Avon resident Carol Krueger. “How am I going to get my kids to the new location? By moving the school over, it creates more hodgepodge.”

For the time being, Bohart said, the school will remain in its original location next to the interchange. But the proposed school may again move to a location near the river if the U.S. Forest Service allows Traer Creek to build a road to the site.

Easement routes

Bohart said Traer Creek needs approval from the school district to move the school from the interchange to the river site.

“We’re supportive of the new site, but our concerns are what if the Forest Service doesn’t approve that access route?” said Tom Braun, a land planner for the Eagle County School District. “The second access proposed isn’t acceptable as the primary access to the school.”

The second access winds above and around the school, which, parents and residents said, might not be the safest idea.

“I’m fired up about this,” said Avon resident Tamra Underwood. “I’ll be fired up about this two weeks from now, a month from now and probably a year from now.”

Number of homes

Other residents raised questions about the number of homes planned northeast of the interstate and the commercial development that may accompany them.

The original agreement signed between the town and Traer Creek calls for a total of 2,400 residential units in addition to the sea of commercial space that includes Eagle County’s first two big-box retailers.

Traer Creek wants to add 310 residential units to a site alongside the river whether the school is built there or not. An initial agreement allows Traer Creek to build 15 units-per-acre there, but the developer, hoping for approval in the near future, now says a lower density – eight units-per-acre – is sufficient.

Traer Creek lowered the density of a residential complex next to the interchange, from eight units-per-acre to six units-per-acre. Traer Creek also agreed not to build lock-off apartments there after the Town Council raised concerns about traffic and growth.

Fluid development

Eaglebend resident Amy Phillips said she has watched the project from the beginning in 1998. Through the development and changes, she said the plans from 1998 to 2001 are different.

“At first, I was backed up to other residential units the same size as mine,” Phillips said. “But then I got backed up to a lumber yard. Now, I’m no longer backed up to a lumber yard because The Home Depot is open.”

Phillips said it wasn’t the changes in the development that bothered her, but the commercial development proposed next to the interstate.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

National retailers to fill old Wal-Mart building

By Christine Ina Casillas

The old Wal-Mart building in Avon is fully under construction and ready to be revitalized, said Shane Bohart, vice president of development for Traer Creek LLC.

Three national retailers will take over the old building and two of the stores could open around the winter holidays, Bohart said.

“Our objective is to get these stores open around Christmas or right around the New Year,” he said. “The third tenant will be trailing behind the other two, hopefully by the spring of “04.”

An additional 12,000 square feet is being added to the old store in an effort to accommodate a Pier I Imports, in place of the old garden center on the west side of the building. The second retailer on line is Gart Sports, which will take up about 33,000 square feet of the existing building.

“We’re in round No. 4 with the third retailer at this time, but we can’t disclose any information as to who it is right now,” Bohart said.

The third retailer will take up about 20,000 square feet of space.

About a mile to the east, the new full-diamond interchange on Interstate 70, which will bring shoppers more directly to Wal-Mart and The Home Depot, should be open no later than Oct. 15, Bohart said.

The opening of the interchange was stalled because of landscaping problems on Post Boulevard – which runs past the big box stores to the roundabout at U.S. Highway 6 – but the delay in the opening of the full-diamond is nearly worked out, he said.

Incomplete construction of the off-ramps, proper signing, drainage and guardnails were other problems that caused a delay in the opening, said officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“We wanted to make sure all the landscaping was in place before we opened the interchange,” Bohart said. “The bridge structure is in and the roundabouts are complete.”

The interchange and Post Boulevard had to be complete, correct and safe for the public to use before opening, transportation officials said.


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