Eagle County begins discussion on new multi-use health center near Edwards’ Freedom Park | VailDaily.com

Eagle County begins discussion on new multi-use health center near Edwards’ Freedom Park

The site for Eagle County's proposed multi-use health care center is located immediately north of the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation Center Field House in Edwards.

EAGLE — The need is identified, the site is available and a partial funding source for services has been tapped for Eagle County to proceed with a multi-use health center in the Edwards area.

But even with all of those factors working in its favor, actual construction won't be starting any time soon. In fact, the most likely scenario anticipates it will be mid-year 2019 before the county could even break ground on the center.

The proposed site for the Eagle County Freedom Park Health Center is the county-owned empty area located immediately north of the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District Field House in Edwards. The proposed structure would likely cover approximately 40,000 square feet, although actual square footage needs for the various uses has yet to be determined. The maximum building height would be 45 feet, and around 120 parking spaces would be required at the site.

This week, Eagle County officials held the first discussion about the proposed Edwards facility. The center, as envisioned, would house a number of programs, including Mountain Family Health Center, county public health offices and the Family Resource Center. Additionally, the site would include mental health services provided by Mind Springs Health, including up to eight critical-care beds, eight respite care beds and social detox services.

During November, Eagle County voters approved a new sales tax on retail marijuana sales to help fund expanded mental health services in the valley. But the voter-approved funding was not earmarked for use on infrastructure, and that is why the county is contemplating its shared-used facility. A capital funding campaign is anticipated for the Edwards center, and even though the project is in its preliminary stage, early estimates figure the center will cost in excess of $20 million.

Partners and planning

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"As it is scoped right now, this is a very expensive project," said Eagle County Public Health Director Chris Lindley.

That's part of the reason why the county is looking for tenants such as Mountain Family and Mind Springs to make it happen. But even before reaching out to other entities, the county has some fundamental issues to decide related to the center. Officials need to determine if the proposal is compatible with current surrounding uses, and if that answer is yes, then county staff needs to do a detailed space-needs study to determine the building size.

Philosophically, this week the county commissioners voiced support for locating the health center at the proposed site, noting it is centrally located for all county residents. As for timing, county staff said work on conceptual space layout and design could begin in early 2018, with funding discussions planned in the spring of next year. Conceptual design development would follow, with ground-breaking happening in 2019.

"The soonest we would expect this project to be completed would be the first quarter of 2020," Lindley said.

"This is really a work in progress," added Damian Peduto, Eagle County Community Development director.

But, for their part, the commissioners voiced support for the shared facility.

"It feels like we are going down the right path," Commissioner Jill Ryan said.

"It's really important to get this right," Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said. "This is our one shot at a building there."