Eagle River Station developers launch community meetings | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Station developers launch community meetings

EAGLE, Colorado – A little less than a year ago, Eagle voters narrowly rejected a large commercial/residential development proposed for the east end of town.

Now the developers of the proposed Eagle River Station project are cautiously returning to town to see if a tweaked proposal could net enough community support to move forward.

Two weeks ago, Trinity RED Development announced it would host a series of focus group meetings to examine “community priorities and potential future development at the former Eagle River Station.” The first two meetings were held last week.

“The purpose of it really is to gather input from people in the community about how they felt about the last proposal and what should be in a new proposal,” said Paul Witt, local spokesman for Trinity RED Eagle.

“We want to hear from as broad a perspective has we can,” Witt said.

Witt noted last week’s meetings – held Nov. 17 and 18 – featured 18 participants each. “We wanted to limit the number of people we have at these meetings to get good interaction,” he said.

The session format first features a brief introduction by Kathy Chandler-Henry of Black Diamond Research, the Eagle-based firm hired by Trinity RED to conduct the focus groups. Jeff McMahon of RED Development then briefly discusses the project’s history in Eagle.

“Jeff has been pretty clear there is no guarantee they are coming back to the town with a proposal, but if they did it would likely be in early 2011,” said Witt.

Witt also participates in the focus groups’ introductions by providing an overview of what the recently adopted Eagle Area Community Plan says about the east Eagle area. The plan specifies mixed use commercial development is appropriate at the site and one of the goals for the area is to “use the visibility and accessibility of the area to I-70 to draw new businesses to town that cater to/rely on broader regional markets. Regional retail is encouraged to be located in this area.”

Witt said once the introductions are over, Trinity RED representatives leave the room and the focus group members are left to chat amongst themselves.

“We have had good discussions and people are very committed and interested. There are lots of ideas,” said Chandler-Henry.

As part of the focus group process, she will be compiling a report of all comments to present to the Trinity RED team and to date has only offered bare bones descriptions of the sessions. In general, she said people who are participating in the process seem willing to find a proposal that works for both the developers and the community.

“People seem to appreciate that they were being asked at an early stage,” she added.

As for the make-up of the groups, Chandler-Henry said they seem to be a fairly even split between people who supported and people who opposed the prior application. That said, she noted the purpose of the sessions is not to delve into old arguments or to come to consensus about a new plan.

“It’s more of an open discussion than a debate,” she said.

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