Eagle Valley Trail funding may be complex, but county officials really want it finished in 2024
It's still uncertain how to finish funding the last trail segment
The Eagle County Board of Commissioners is adamant that the Eagle Valley Trail will be finished in 2024. Paying for the final, most expensive segment will require some financial juggling.
In a Tuesday presentation to the commissioners, Chief Financial Officer Jill Klosterman noted that the final segment of the 63-mile trail, from Edwards to Horn Ranch, is estimated to cost roughly $14.7 million over and above what’s already been spent. But, she added, there currently isn’t enough money to pay that entire bill.
- $27 million: Expected 2024 Eagle County spending on a new services building in Edwards.
- $14.7 million: Expected 2024 cost of finishing the Eagle Valley Trail between Edwards and Horn Ranch.
- $21,000: Expected annual per-mile cost to operate and maintain the trail.
- $8.3 million: Expected 2024 cost of a system using geothermal energy to heat the Eagle County Administration Building.
The trail segment received a boost in October with the addition of a $5 million grant from the state. The project has also received about $750,000 from an independent fundraising effort, as well as another $420,000 in interest from county investments.
Klosterman said Trails Program Manager Kevin Sharkey is working on a grant request to the Great Outdoors Colorado program.
Other funding could come from trails funding from the existing .5% sales tax imposed by ECO Transit for both trails and buses. ECO is moving its revenue to the new Eagle Valley Regional Transportation Authority. That authority, an entity that’s separate from the county government, and the county would need to sign an intergovernmental agreement in order to put that money toward the trail project.
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The final segment of the trail is perhaps the most difficult, given tight rights of way, the need to cross private land — presumably at a cost — and operating next to a state highway with a 55 mph speed limit.
Klosterman said there would be meetings with the trail team every other week.
“We’re going to keep marching forward,” she said.
County officials are also planning a large facility at Freedom Park in Edwards, roughly between the Mountain Recreation fieldhouse and the Colorado Mountain College building.
That facility will hold offices for the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle County Public Health and Human Services, and the county’s facilities department. The building will also include 20 modular housing units.
The 2024 draft budget includes $27 million for the facility, and operating costs will begin in 2025. The budget note states that the county will look to sell those county offices’ current midvalley locations. That could actually reduce operating costs, the budget note claims.
Officials are also looking into a roughly $8.3 million geothermal heating system for the county administration building.
County Finance Director Anna Earl said that the project is dependent on a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The county has requested $5 million, and Earl said word about the grant should come by the middle of this month.
Without the grant, Earl said the county could put other funds budgeted into items including more electric vehicle charging stations and replacing some vehicles in the county’s fleet with electric vehicles.
Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said if the state grant doesn’t come through, she’d like to look elsewhere to fund the geothermal project. The county administration building is a demonstration project to see whether or not the technology works.
“I think this is a priority,” County Manager Jeff Shroll said of the geothermal project.