Eagle County raises parking concerns in regards to Eagle River Park plan
August 27, 2017
EAGLE — Plans for the Eagle River Park are approaching completion, but last week a new wrinkle emerged for the project.
Following the 2017 Eagle County Fair & Rodeo, county officials revised their event parking request for the upland park area of the plan. That request could substantially impact the overall park design.
The $5.9 million Eagle River Park project is a 4.3-acre park including two main components: the in-stream design and construction of a new whitewater park, and the upland park parcel on the north side of the Colorado River. Eagle County owns the land where the park will be built, and the town of Eagle is the lead entity for the park planning and construction.
The Eagle River Park project borders the Eagle River near the Eagle County Fairgrounds and Chambers Park. The river park is part of the Eagle River Corridor Plan established in 2015 and has been funded by a portion of the 0.5 percent sales tax approved through a ballot measure in 2016. The project is being designed and constructed in two primary phases, the whitewater park and the upland park.
"Recognizing the fair and rodeo's parking needs has been a consistent priority throughout the design process. We have worked closely with Eagle County over the last two years to ensure that the town is designing a park that will be compatible and complementary to the Eagle County Fairgrounds and accommodate the parking needs of the fair and rodeo," said acting Eagle Town Manager Tom Boni in a statement released last week.
However, the statement also noted finding a balance for an adequate number of parking spaces is challenging and requires continued refinement of user data and information.
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"The county collected data from the July 2017 rodeo events to verify that earlier estimates provided to the town adequately reflect how the existing rodeo function," reads the statement.
"The recent data identified that the current parking configuration is not sufficient."
The Eagle River Park reduces the size of the existing fair and rodeo parking lot. Some of that impact can be accommodated at the upgraded Exhibit Hall area west of the Eagle River Park. But due to the proposed park impact, the county has indicated it must develop a parking management plan to efficiently use the new parking areas. Final resolution of the parking concern requires continued design iterations, data collection and brainstorming.
"The town and county believe that a resolution around the amount of sufficient parking can be achieved," Boni said. "However, there may be implications to the project design and budget that will need to be managed based on final parking design."
After the Eagle River Park is complete, the parking lot will be dedicated to rodeo operations during the event and the county will implement a parking-management plan to present the fair and rodeo with limited impact to the contestants and river users.
"Both the fair and rodeo and the whitewater park are key components to the future vision of the town and Eagle County," said interim Eagle County Manager Bryan Treu.
"The county recognizes the importance of the river park to the town of Eagle and the surrounding communities. We have to balance that with the realities of operating our long-standing, world class rodeo."
Town board reaction
Members of the Eagle Town Board first learned about the issue last week.
During a Tuesday meeting, members expressed concerns about what the parking issues could mean for the Eagle River Park.
"Not only does this have design implications, it could have financial ones," said town board member Andy Jessen.
Jessen noted that staff members from both the town and the county are working toward a resolution of the issue and suggested that at some point a meeting between the town board and the Eagle County commissioners may be necessary to address the concerns.