Eagle land trade could lead to housing | VailDaily.com

Eagle land trade could lead to housing

Kathy Heicher
Eagle Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado ” Eagle County and the U.S. Forest Service are edging toward a partnership that could jump-start significant redevelopment in west Eagle.

It’s a complex process involving the sale of land-locked Forest Service properties in town to the county; and redevelopment of the old county road and bridge properties.

The forest service administrative offices also could be moved to the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

County officials are eyeing the Forest Service lots and the adjoining road and bridge parcels in west Eagle for workforce housing. The Forest Service would want some of that housing for their employees.

There’s also a possibility, if private land owners in west Eagle are interested, of re-developing Highway 6.

“It looks promising at this point,” says Randy Parker, conveyance program manager for the White River National Forest.

Parker and County Housing Director Alex Potente confirmed they have been discussing the possible deal for almost a year. Both entities anticipate the land deal could be completed by the end of this year.

The Forest Service properties in Eagle include the administration office and a house on Fifth Street, a home on Sixth and Washington, a 5-acre horse pasture and the adjacent 3-acre “bug camp” storage space. The office and ranger’s house on Fifth Street were built decades ago. The office/work center has been remodeled and added onto numerous times. The Forest Service says the buildings are crowded and outdated.

Parker said the Forest Service wants to build a new office and work center west of Wolcott; and preferably in the town of Eagle. Eagle County officials, while negotiating the land deal, floated the proposal to relocate the Forest Service headquarters to another property ” possibly the fairgrounds.

“The county commissioners are sensitive to the public benefit of the Forest Service (office),” said Potente, “We’d prefer to keep it in the county seat.”

Meanwhile, Parker says, the Forest Service, like most businesses in the valley, has found that a lack of affordable housing was a key issue in retaining employees. That’s what prompted discussions with the county regarding a deal that would include some employee housing.

“What good is a new office if there is nobody there to occupy it?” asks Parker.

If the deal goes through, Potente says the county could expand its offices onto the land where the Forest Service headquarters and home are. The county has also acquired the property on the northwest corner of Fifth and Broadway.

The long-promised Bull Pasture bypass road connecting Highway 6 and Brush Creek Road also could be built.

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