Eagle retail campaign heats up | VailDaily.com

Eagle retail campaign heats up

Sarah Mausolf
Eagle, CO Colorado
COVID-19 has caused a lot of havoc in Eagle, but sales tax numbers are actually ahead of 2019 figures,.
Daily file photo

EAGLE – The fate of Eagle River Station now rests in the hands of voters, and several groups are making their opinions known.

There will be no shortage of campaigning in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 5 citizen referendum on the shopping center.

From house meetings to a gathering at The Dusty Boot, citizens’ group on both sides of the issue are spreading their messages.

Trinity/RED Development proposes Eagle River Station on 88 acres at eastern end of Eagle, south of Interstate 70. The proposal includes 552,000 square feet of commercial space including a 132,000 square foot Target store. The plan also includes a 150-room hotel and 581 residential units.

Here are some of the groups getting vocal on the topic:

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Stance on Eagle River Station: Opposed

Who: The citizens’ group formed seven years ago to fight a different proposal for the shopping center land, called Red Mountain Ranch, which never came to fruition. The citizens’ group went dormant for a while and revived about three years ago when developers proposed Eagle River Station. Jan Rosenthal Townsend, a founding member of the group and owner of Alpine Ambiance in downtown Eagle, said about 600 people signed its petition. A group e-mail list has about 700 people, she said. Members include a variety of folks, from Eagle business owners to Eagle residents to those who live in neighborhoods near the proposed development, she said.

Arguments: Eagle River Station will hurt Eagle businesses by drawing shoppers to the outskirts of town, Rosenthal Townsend argues. With its own I-70 interchange, Eagle River Station will not encourage customers to explore other parts of town, she argues. Rosenthal Townsend said she questions whether the development is economically feasible. She is not convinced developers will be able to get loans for the project or attract enough tenants to make the center successful. Also, she argues the shopping center will cause traffic jams in Eagle.

Desired outcome: Wants citizens to defeat the Eagle River Station project in the referendum. Wants the town to consult with community groups to envision an alternative to Eagle River Station.

Strategy: Formed a separate campaigning arm to spread its message

Stance on Eagle River Station: Opposed

Who: The campaigning arm of the Citizens for the Future of Eagle, this group adopted the slogan “Smart Growth-Not Urban Sprawl-Vote No on Eagle River Station,” group spokeswoman Brandi Resa said. The group formed shortly after the town voted to hold a referendum on Eagle River Station, Resa said. The group hasn’t yet done a tally of its members, she said. The group consists of a variety of citizens who are familiar with the project, from Eagle residents to those who live outside Eagle, said Resa, who is an Eagle resident.

Arguments: The shopping center will lease commercial and office space, so there will be no local ownership, Resa argues. Most of the infrastructure improvements the developers promise are only necessary because of the additional needs the shopping center would place on the community. Also, the town’s planning and zoning commission turned the project down twice, Resa said.

Desired outcome: Voters defeat the project in the referendum.

Strategy: The group plans several community meetings to spread its message about Eagle River Station. A meeting is planned for 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Dusty Boot in Eagle Ranch.

Stance on Eagle River Station: For it

Who: This citizens’ group formed shortly after the town voted to hold a referendum on Eagle River Station, co-chairwoman Frances Rolater said. The group does not yet have a membership roster, so it is unclear exactly how many members it has, she said. Supporters include a variety of people, from young Eagle families to empty nesters to bankers and contractors, she said.

Arguments: Eagle River Station would bring much-needed sales tax revenue to Eagle, Rolater argues. “We feel this is the best opportunity we’ve seen in a long time to provide financial support for the town,” she said. Also, she argues the project comes with infrastructure upgrades the town could not otherwise afford, such as an I-70 interchange and improvements to the water system.

Desired outcome: Voters approve Eagle River Station in the referendum

Strategy: The group has been attending house meetings, Rolater said. Concerned citizens have been holding private meetings at their homes, sometimes with the Eagle River Station developers present, she said.

Stance on Eagle River Station: For it

Who: This group formed about a year and a half ago to provide factual information about Eagle River Station, founding member Fred Schmidt said. Schmidt, a retired teacher who lives in Eagle Ranch, estimates the group has about 200 members, based on an e-mail list. Members include Eagle residents and other people who are interested in Eagle River Station, he said. The group has held house meetings, sent out e-mails and used a Web site to spread its message.

Arguments: Eagle River Station will provide a sales tax revenue base for the town, Schmidt said. Also, the town would benefit from fees the developers must pay up front, he said. Plus, the project comes with millions of dollars worth of infrastructure upgrades the town could not otherwise afford, he argues.

Desired outcome: Citizens approve Eagle River Station in the referendum

Strategy: Schmidt said he’s waiting to hear back from the developers before forming a strategy.

Staff writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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