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County ponders recreation at Berry Creek

James Blatter/Special to the Daily

After viewing a proposal from Edwards resident Peter Bergh last week, the Eagle County Commissioners affirmed their support for existing recreation districts in the county.

3This has been very interesting and I like a lot of what I saw,² said chairman Michael Gallagher. 3But I want both the Vail and Western Eagle recreation districts to know that we are going to work with them, and we appreciate them working together; maybe that can lead to a consolidated district down the road.²

Commissioners held a work session to discuss what can be developed on the Berry Creek Fifth Filing parcel in Edwards. A group representing Bergh and Sports and Fitness Edge, Inc. of Vermont presented a plan that would build four full-sized soccer and four softball fields, along with a 120,000-square-foot community center that would include an ice rink and swimming pool.

The lower end of the property would feature a five- to eight-acre lake.

While agreeing the presentation was impressive, the commissioners felt it was perhaps to soon for such a proposal because as yet there is no master plan for development there beyond the ball fields.

Commissioner Arn Menconi said any mention of a full community center might raise the public1s expectations to an unrealistic level.

3I don1t think we want to start talking about this before we have any idea of what the public wants,² said Menconi. 3I1m most concerned about providing the ball fields and getting someone to maintain them before we start taking about a community center.²

The estimated cost of the center was well beyond what the commissioners want to endorse right now. Bergh estimated his plan for the area would cost up to $20 million to construct and then up to $4 million per year to run. While the possibility was raised of floating a bond that has the county1s backing but is paid off by the profits from the center, the commissioners preferred to establish a more defined vision that included the valley1s two major recreation districts.

Menconi said that he didn1t want to start planning for something no one will use.

3We1re a community of mountain athletes; can you say why someone would use a 30-foot climbing wall rather than a 3,000-foot one? Also, I see plans for tennis, which I consider a dying sport, but none for basketball,² said Menconi. 3I believe that any planning we do needs to get more participation.²

Individuals who attended also didn1t want big visions to sidetrack the commissioners.

Dave Lach, chairman of the Edwards Metropolitan District Board, asked the commissioners to stay focused on the known needs of the community.

3I like what I1ve seen here today,² said Lach. 3But I don1t want the commissioners to let the ball fields lag. I don1t want to be here again after this summer asking when those fields get built.²

The commissioners ended the meeting by agreeing to move ahead with plans to construct the ball fields this year while continuing to evaluate the other proposals they have received.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.


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