’Economic recovery’ is theme for Eagle’s 2021 spending plan

As the time capsule at the site noted, the Brush Creek Community Playground will be 20 years old next spring. As part of its 2021 budget, the town of Eagle will begin planning and design to replace the aging wooden structure. Eagle is interested in launching a community build project, similar to the original park construction effort, when it comes time to construct the new playground.
Daily file photo

After the year the town has experienced in 2020, it’s not surprising to learn that the theme for Eagle’s 2021 budget is “economic recovery.”

But luckily for the downvalley community of Eagle, there wasn’t a huge slide that it needed to recover from.

“The town’s financial position is pretty much going to hold steady from last year,” said Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter.

For 2021, the town has budgeted a 2% increase in revenues over 2020. “It’s not a flat budget, but it is a conservative one. If COVID-19 wasn’t a thing, it would probably be more aggressive.”

The town’s revised general fund spending for 2020 is estimated to be approximately $7.2 million. For 2021, the town is proposing expenditures of approximately $7.9 million.

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Economic recovery efforts

Even though Eagle’s overall sales tax receipts from 2020 have largely seen modest increases, individual businesses and commercial sectors have had a tough time weathering COVID-19. Reitter said the town has earmarked $50,000, which will come from grand funding, for a downtown development.

“That will help us come up with strategies to support our local business in downtown Eagle,” she noted.

Another grant-funded recovery effort will be Eagle’s broadband expansion project. She noted in a post COVID-19 world, where residents are working from home in record numbers, the town’s broadband limitations have become glaringly obvious. The town’s municipal broadband expansion next year will extend from the town hall hub south to the Eagle County Building.

Planning ahead

Reitter noted that 2021 will include funding for two important planning efforts — a sub area plan for the RED Development property on the east side of town and the Grand Avenue corridor study.

The RED property was the home of the proposed Eagle River Station retail development. “There is no market for that use in the near future,” said Reitter. She said RED representatives and town officials have agreed to work together to research other options for the property.

The Grand Avenue (formerly U.S. Highway 6) corridor study marks the beginning of a redevelopment plan that’s been discussed for decades. The corridor has a number of difficult intersections when town streets intersect at a diagonal, causing turning difficulties.

“What that study will address is the improvements for traffic circulation, but also beautification and recommendations for land uses that support economic vitality along that corridor,” Reitter said.

She said in January the town will launch an outreach project to involve residents in the study.

The town is also looking to complete an open space and trails master plan next year.

“We all cherish our open spaces and trails and parks in Eagle,” said Reitter. “We will work on this plan so we can figure out the best way, as a community, to maintain our natural amenities.”

Capital projects

For residents of Eagle, the town’s capital projects generate interest and usually generate impacts. The year ahead is no exception.

In 2021, the town will spend $85,000 for safety improvements at the Capitol Street-Sylvan Lake Road intersection.

“That has been one of our problem intersections for pedestrians,” Reitter said. The solution, she noted, is to build a “pedestrian refuge” on the east side of the intersection to make crossing the road less difficult.

Landscaping improvements along Eby Creek Road and the art mural project at Alpine Lumber are listed in the budget for $150,000.

“That is the gateway to town and the whole area is really blighted,” said Reitter.

Another $200,000 has been earmarked for sidewalks and trails along Capitol to Second Street.

“The idea is to improve pedestrian safety and beautify the area,” Reitter said.

The town will also spend $600,000 on street resurfacing and pavement replacement next year.

Reitter added that an improvement project that will hopefully involve the community will launch in 2021. For the past 20 years, the Brush Creek Community Playground has been a popular amenity in town, but the wooden structure is showing its age, Reitter said. For 2021, Eagle has budgeted $100,000 to design and plan for new playground equipment at the location.

“Hopefully we get a design and plan for that park in 2021 and we can apply for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant,” she said. “I would think that we would want to involve the community in that effort. I am a big fan of community builds when it comes to playgrounds. People love doing that.”

That’s not the only project on tap at the Brush Creek Park for 2021, Reitter added.

“People who use our pavilion at Brush Creek Park will be pleased to hear we are finally replacing the studio building floor next year,” she said.

And while 2020 has been a tough year for Eagle’s open space fund — which is supported by the community’s lodging tax — Reitter said the town plans to progress with at least one project next year. The town plans to build the Haymaker II trail, which will connect the popular existing trail with the county’s Brush Creek Valley Ranch open space.

The Eagle Town Board is slated to formally adopt its 2021 budget at its next meeting, scheduled Tuesday, Dec. 8.

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