Survey gauges support for proposed water park | VailDaily.com

Survey gauges support for proposed water park

EAGLE — Last year, during a strategic planning session, members of the Eagle Town Board decided development of a water park was their top priority for the community. Last week, a polling firm began surveying Eagle residents to determine if there is community support for a tax increase to fund that project.

Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney said the polling is the latest step in a river corridor plan effort launched a few months ago with the assistance of the Sonoran Institute. The town has hosted community outreach sessions and developed a working document that will be incorporated into the town's master plan. On the whole, Stavney noted the majority of the corridor plan calls for preservation and light use of the river frontage with one exception — the area west of the Chambers Park that is currently a parking lot for trucks. That land is owned by Eagle County, and the plan envisions a riverfront green space with water park features.

But before Eagle can tackle this ambitious plan, it needs to find out how much it will cost and figure out a way to pay for it.

HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?

On the cost side, Stavney said the town is compiling a project estimate for a plan that would include park land, restrooms, a rental operation building and more. Additionally, the town's research regarding cost for a water park indicate it would cost between $1 million and $1.5 million for the in-stream features alone.

Stavney noted Eagle could simply start saving and pay for the project when the money has been stockpiled. But considering Eagle' entire annual operating budget is approximately $4.5 million, that would obviously take a while. What's more, there are lots of competing needs in the town's regular spending plan.

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"We are thinking there are a lot of meat and potatoes projects that we are going to need to address as the town grows," said Stavney. "We are thinking this project is a big idea that is going to need funding."

Survey effort

With the funding question looming, the town has allocated up to $10,000 on the survey effort with two partners — Bruce Nickerson and Merv Lapin — contributing the other half of the cost. The poll itself was developed with the assistance of the Trust for Public Land — a nationwide group with offices in Colorado that was formed in 1972 and has generated more than $34 billion in state and local conservation funding, completed more than 5,000 conservation projects and protected more than 3 million acres nationwide.

The Eagle survey is slated to run for two weeks, concluding Tuesday. The town board will review the results in detail later this month. Questions cover everything from how residents feel about a proposed property tax or sales tax increase for park improvements to their opinions about of various town and community entities. Once the results are compiled, the survey firm will advise the town board about chances for a successful election as well as a list of issues that resonated with residents.

"Before Sept. 4, the town has to notify the county if they are going for a funding election this fall. The town board has a lot of decisions at hand," said Stavney.