Eagle aims to break down barriers to accessing open spaces | VailDaily.com

Eagle aims to break down barriers to accessing open spaces

Advisory council discusses equitable access to the town’s open spaces and trails

Eagle is in the process of creating a new master plan for its popular trails and open spaces.
Town of Eagle

Eagle is hoping to break down barriers and create more equitable access to its cherished open spaces and trails through the development of a new master plan.

Local stakeholders and members of a town advisory committee discussed ways to incorporate input from a broader, more diverse swath of the population this week as they move forward with the plan, which will guide work on open spaces and trails for the next 10 years.

“It’s my goal to meet with diverse community members and figure out exactly what are the barriers in place for them coming out and enjoying the open space,” the town’s open space manager Brian Lieberman said Wednesday. “Through this process, we’re really hoping to define what those actions are that we can take.”

In a Monday meeting, local stakeholders discussed priorities for the plan’s development, highlighting the need to engage new communities not typically represented in public outreach meetings such as non-English speakers.

An advisory committee to the Eagle Town Council dedicated to open space and recreation continued this discussion in a Tuesday meeting. Committee members called for more diversity in stakeholder work sessions and stressed the importance of providing Spanish translations of all plan documents and public outreach campaigns.

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One member suggested tapping into the stewardship team of Eagle County’s new “Vista” project as a way of getting a broader perspective on the foundational document, which will dictate values and priorities for maintenance and upgrades to open spaces and trails.

The stewardship team is a diverse array of community members who help to identify common local challenges and solutions to inform Eagle County’s comprehensive plan, strategic plan and other community policies and initiatives.

Community members interested in participating in the discussion around outdoor recreation in Eagle can learn more by visiting EagleOSTPlan.org for more information.

“For Eagle residents, we would love as much and as diverse public participation in this process as possible,” Lieberman said. “If there’s something you want to see or you have comments or if you just want to learn more … come out and participate.”

The town plans to hold a series of public focus groups beginning in September and will also be circulating various polls to gather more input, he said.

One challenge to maintaining local open spaces and trails that has already been identified is how to regulate off-leash dogs, a challenge that will need to be addressed as the town’s population grows, Lieberman said.

“With more people, there’s more dogs and just more potential for conflict there whether that’s dogs off leash harassing wildlife, dogs off leash harassing other trail users or just the poop management side of it all,” he said. “Where we used to be able to get away with it and it wasn’t such a big deal, I think now that there’s more folks it’s going to take some more intentional management here in the next couple of years.”

Advisory committee members discussed a variety of ideas on how to address this in Tuesday’s meeting from more dog waste stations on trails to the designation of trails as “on-leash” or “off-leash.”

Another idea presented was to require dog owners to provide proof that their pets are well-behaved enough to go leashless through some kind of registration system.

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