West Edwards residents want a voice in their future | VailDaily.com

West Edwards residents want a voice in their future

November workshop yields 60 recommendations from neighborhood stakeholders

Eagle River Village, un vecindario crítico de clase trabajadora de bajos ingresos frente al HWY 6 al oeste de Edwards, tiene más del doble de la población de Minturn y alberga aproximadamente el 3.5% de la población total del condado de Eagle. Ascentia, una empresa con sede en Littleton, compró la zona en 1985.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

EDWARDS — When someone actually asked them what they think about the community where they live, residents of the West Edwards area clearly said they want a stronger voice in both the current operation and future development of their neighborhood.

In fact, they presented 60 different recommendations — focused on topics including equity, funding, resilience, access to affordable and healthy food, social isolation, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, health, early childhood education and more — as part of an Urban Land Institute Study that launched last November.

“That’s a huge amount of recommendations,” noted Emma Sloan, health policy planner for Eagle County Public Health and Environment.

The county’s outreach with the Urban Land Institute was a bit unusual. The county’s public health department headed up the effort, rather than the county’s community development department. Sloan noted that it was a movement back to the roots of community planning when public health concerns gave birth to planning and zoning.

The Urban Land Institute provides leadership for land use issues and works toward creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. The organization has more than 1,400 members in Colorado, and its district council is committed to applying best practices in land use through community workshops, educational events and professional development programs.

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In November, one of those workshops focused on West Edwards. This week, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners got a preview of what the workshop report will say.

Sloan noted that the high-density West Edwards area has experienced continued growth and is a central point of the Eagle River Valley. What’s more, there are 20 separate zone districts in the West Edwards area. For the study, two community tours were organized and a group of participants that included county employees, community residents, land consultants, business owners, community organization representatives and special district representatives participated.

Eagle River Mobile Home Park

The Eagle River mobile home park is a dominant feature of the West Edwards area and according, many of the priorities identified for the larger area are tied to that neighborhood.

Issues regarding the park operations range from concerns about water quality to a new state law allowing the county more regulatory power over the park. Workshop participants stated they wanted to form a homeowners association for the park.

Faviola Alderete, Healthy Communities coordinator for Eagle County Public Health and Environment, said the workshop participants from the mobile home park supported the creation of an HOA “to give them the opportunity to have power and a voice.”

She added that many of the recommendations identified during the sessions are the responsibility of the property manager, but residents want training regarding the state’s new mobile home park law. The state’s new Mobile Home Park Oversight Act specifically allows park residents the right to meet and establish a homeowners association or resident council. The act also gives the county authority to adopt and enforce rules for safe and equitable operation of the mobile home parks. With the new rules in place, workshop participants cited a desire for the county to help with mediation between residents and the property owner.

“This (the November workshop) gave residents a chance to say what is the first step,” Alderete said.

Sloan noted there are eight recommendation highlights from the workshop specifically address issues at the mobile home park:

  • Ensure diverse representation on Edwards Metro Board
  • Communicate across cultural barriers
  • Prioritize funding based on West Edwards community desires
  • Enforce Mobile Home Park Oversight Act
  • Support creation of community center
  • Update the Edwards Sub-Area Plan to be more inclusive and representative of West Edwards
  • Comprehensive plan re-write
  • Invest in trees

Other priorities

Beyond the mobile home concerns, West Edwards residents cited the need for community gathering spaces and a secondary entrance to the neighborhood. They also said they want more trees in the area to reduce heat and beautify the community.

Sloan said neighborhood residents also identified a need for more parking. “Folks are dependent on their vehicles for work,” she noted. “The need for parking spaces was a surprise outcome of this study.”

Looking ahead, on March 19 the county commissioners have scheduled a joint meeting with members of the Edwards Metropolitan District Board of Directors. County representatives hope to have the final report from the Urban Land Institute workshop prior to that session.

“This study has provided us with the opportunity to demonstrate to the community members of how their voice is important,” said Rebecca Larson, deputy director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment. “The community wants to be involved. They want to be part of the changes that happen in their community.”

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