Eagle, Gypsum officials discuss upcoming projects
GYPSUM — The last time the town boards in Eagle and Gypsum got together, the guns came out.
And that would have happened again Tuesday night, but the Gypsum Shooting Sports Club is shut down for renovation. So the elected representatives from both communities had to content themselves with dinner and discussion, absent a recreational shooting outing.
Talk around the table ranged from updates regarding development projects in both towns to examination of the communities’ prior history. But the central theme was projects that have brought the communities together — literally together.
In 2016, the borders of Eagle and Gypsum will abut for the first time ever along U.S. Highway 6. That will occur as Eagle and Gypsum contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation for the devolution of U.S. Highway 6. That process will transfer ownership and maintenance responsibility for the seven-mile stretch of the highway between Eagle and Gypsum from the state to the towns. CDOT will be providing an upfront payment of $12.1 million for the devolution, which is estimated as the maintenance cost for the roadway for the next 20 years.
Representatives from both towns acknowledged that the money part of the transaction may or may not be a good deal.
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“Maybe the dollar amount is not sufficient, but there is a hidden value,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll. He noted that by removing U.S. Highway 6 from the state process, the towns will be able to more efficiently and cost-effectively plan road projects.
As they prepare for devolution, the towns will engage in a series of annexations that will bring U.S. Highway 6 into their respective jurisdictions. Gypsum will be taking on a longer stretch of the highway. As for division of the state’s $12.1 million payment, staff from the two communities have proposed a split that calculates the amount of square feet of U.S. Highway 6 pavement in each community. The formula accounts for the main highway and for acceleration and deceleration lanes as well. Bridges and drainage structures also play into the mix. Using those parameters, $10.5 million would go to Gypsum and $1.6 million would go to Eagle.
Once the road is theirs, Eagle and Gypsum will work out some other cooperative agreements.
“We would like to put an intergovernmental agreement in place for snow plowing,” said Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney.
Shroll noted that it will likely make sense for Gypsum drivers to plow through to the Sylvan Lake Road roundabout in Eagle, using it as the turnaround point to return westward.
As a side note, albeit an interesting one, the town representatives learned Tuesday that they will have to rename the roadway once devolution is completed.
“It won’t be U.S. Highway 6 any more, it will be a local road,” said Eagle Town Engineer Tom Gosoirowski.
The idea of assigning a name to the Eagle and Gypsum corridor produced several suggestions.
“Maybe we should sell the naming rights,” joked Eagle Town Board member Andy Jessen.
During their two-hour gathering, the town representatives touched on several other subject as well. They decided to alternate the downvalley July 4 fireworks show between the two communities and for Independence Day 2016, Gypsum will be the host.
On the subject of fire district consolidation, the town board members made it clear that they would support whatever the Gypsum Fire District and Greater Eagle Fire District boards decide.
“It is entirely up to them. They have their own boards,” said Gypsum Mayor Steve Carver.
And to close out the session, Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick brought up the subject of revenue sharing. A few years ago, the towns crafted a revenue sharing agreement that channeled some of the sales tax money generated at Gypsum’s Costco to Eagle. Gypsum terminated that agreement shortly after Eagle voters approved the Eagle River Station development plan. With that large retail/residential project proposed on the east end of Eagle now dormant, Kostick asked if Gypsum would be interested in reconsideration of a revenue sharing deal.
“We are missing the $450,0000 (the approximate amount the revenue share agreement generated annually) out of our budget,” said Kostick. “Eagle would be open if there is a revenue sharing plan that makes sense.”
“The concept is to not compete with one another,” said Shroll. He noted as long as the proposal is a viable option for Eagle, Gypsum would not be interested in a revenue share plan.