Consultant: time to finish open space plan |

Consultant: time to finish open space plan

NWS Eagle River Preserve BH 8-3

EAGLE – It’s time to stop thinking about how to paint this picture.Much of the Eagle River Preserve property at Edwards is a blank canvas. Much of the land is a former gravel pit, now being reclaimed by B&B Excavating. That company is hauling in load after load of dirt, and it’s about time to make some decisions what to do with it, a county consultant says. Rick Pylman, a local land planner and a member of the Eagle River Preserve Oversight Committee, has been working on plans for the property. He showed the county commissioners a plan for the property this week that includes hills, dales, trails, swales, and, perhaps, a hummock or two. But, Pylman said, it’s time to nail down the bluperints and start moving those piles of dirt.There’s a lot to nail down – “72 acres is a big space,” Pylman said – so before plans are set, the committee, and the county commissioners, have to make decisions including:

The current plan – which, again, isn’t final – calls for parking near the river in the eastern half of the property. That could be near a small nature center that would probably be run by the Gore Range Natural Science School.Commissioner Arn Menconi wondered aloud if that spot, which would be one of the more secluded areas on the property, should have cars on it.Fellow Commissioner Peter Runyon – Commissioner Tom Stone was out of town – said he’s concerned that parking too far away from a riverside trail would make the area harder to get to for older or disabled people.What will probably happen is the parking area will end up a little closer to road, while still close to the river on a flat path.

The plan now calls for a handful of ponds between Highway 6 and the Eagle River, but that might take lawyers. The property has water rights for irrigation, but the county will probably have to have those water rights altered in court in order to use that water for ponds. Because the irrigation water runs only in the summer, don’t expect the ponds to have much in the way of fish.

When the Vail Valley Foundation bought the property last year, Runyon floated the idea of allowing development on the southeast corner of the property in exchange for another piece of land to the west.Foundation officials squashed that idea at the time, but Runyon isn’t giving up.”If you can give up two acres and get 95, we should explore that,” Runyon said.”That corner is the biggest stymie to getting all the property owners there to come in with one plan,” Menconi said.But whatever happens there will be closely watched by the Eagle Valley Land Trust, which enforces the requirements of the contract under which the property was purchased.In a discussion about how to get the public into the property, county planner Cliff Simonton cautioned the commissioners about trying to do too much.”If you do anything other than passive recreation, education, and one road, the land trust would be obligated to sue you,” he said.Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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