Eagle presents river park parking solutions to county officials
EAGLE — It seems there is room for both the upland park development and Eagle County Fair & Rodeo contestant parking at the Eagle River Park site.
Or, rather, there will be enough contestant parking close to the site and accessible to the rodeo arena, and that means the upland park planning can proceed.
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.
During a Monday, Oct. 30, meeting, representatives from the town of Eagle met with the Eagle County commissioners to discuss their fairground parking solution. The issue was brought to the town after the 2017 Eagle County Fair & Rodeo when county officials revised their event parking request for the upland park area of the plan. That request substantially impacted the overall park design.
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“We really appreciate everyone’s sharpened pencils to get to what is an amenable solution,” Eagle Mayor Anne McKibbin said at the onset of Monday’s meeting.
Gary Brooks, of Alpine Engineering, the company hired by the town to complete the upland park plan, noted the parking issue resulted because solid numbers weren’t available until after the 2017 event. Once the numbers were assembled, he noted that town and county staff could get to work developing a solution.
“As least now we can pinpoint the numbers,” Brooks said.
The new proposal spreads out rodeo contestant parking between the Eagle River Park site, improved areas around the old exhibit hall and a new parking area located in the meadow south of the Eagle River Center parking lot.
To provide access to the rodeo arena, a new path must be built and fenced off so livestock can use the route without coming into contact with fairgoers.
“The location of the path is actually preferred,” Brooks said. “It’s a nice, wooded trail. After the fair and rodeo is over, it goes back to being a public trail.”
There are cost implications with the parking redesign. Eagle officials estimate the path design — from the knoll area just west of the Eagle River Park and including wetlands mitigation— will cost $37,000. Project management for the path construction is expected to cost another $9,000 and construction of the trail between the current Fishing is Fun bridge to the knoll will cost around $75,000. The town believes the parking/path project will cost somewhere in the realm of $120,000.
Willing to help out?
During Monday’s session, town officials floated the idea of a partnership with the county to help pay for the parking plan/path construction. The county has contributed $25,000 toward the park design already, as well as committing in-kind resources to the project. Eagle representatives informally asked the commissioners to consider some additional assistance including:
Earthwork for the Exhibit Hall parking area.
Construction of the retaining wall at the Exhibit Hall.
Construction of the trail between the meadow and the Fishing is Fun bridge.
Electrical utilities costs to improve the Exhibit Hall building.
Irrigation improvements at the Exhibit Hall grounds.
“We feel like we are in a really good place now. We have worked through a lot of issues,” Brooks said.
He noted the parking issue for the site could largely be described as an efficiency study, and by looking at the area in a comprehensive fashion, a solution presented itself. Additionally, Brooks noted that the new plan also allows for emergency semi-truck parking at the Eagle River Park area.
While they didn’t commit to additional resources for the plan, the commissioners did inquire about timing for the park construction.
Eagle Town Board member Andy Jessen noted that construction of in-stream features are scheduled to begin this month.
“Ideally the park will be done by the end of summer 2018,” Jessen said.