Editorial: A tough call for Eagle | VailDaily.com

Editorial: A tough call for Eagle

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO Colorado

The Eagle Town Board has an unenviable job coming in its review of the proposed Eagle River Station retail/housing development just east of town.

In some ways, those who will vote on the plan ” the newly seated town board members chosen after the April 1 election ” are in a no-win situation.

Any project the board votes to approve will almost certainly be the subject of a special election in which board members’ motives, character and intelligence will be questioned by some and attacked by others. That’s no fun for a group of barely-paid people who are giving up time from their jobs and families to guide the town.

Further fueling what could be a divisive decision, anything the board approves will certainly change Eagle’s character. While tough to define, “preserving character” has landed at or near the top of the last couple of resident surveys.

But the fact remains that Eagle’s growing population has needs that can’t be met with the town’s current sales tax base. New water and sewer plants and road improvements are just the tip of a very long and expensive list.

With all that in mind, here’s our unsolicited advice to the town board:

– Acknowlege, at least among yourselves, that no Eagle River Station plan will ever satisfy the most ardent critics, who, frankly, want the property just east of town to remain undeveloped for a variety of reasons. That’s an unrealistic expectation for a large piece of private property at the doorstep of a fast-growing town.

– Acknowlege, publicly, that Eagle River Station is about the money, as well as the opportunity to give Eagle another full-diamond interchange for Interstate 70. That money can help all residents. A second interchange can help current residents, too, although not as much as an interchange for the airport. But an airport interchange isn’t the question being asked. Town residents need to recognize that.

– Also make as public as possible numbers that downtown’s most vocal defenders don’t want to talk about: Despite the infusion of a couple of years of effort and a few million dollars into renovating downtown, that part of town can never be anything more than a bit player in the town’s revenue picture.

– Make the best possible deal for a combination of retail space the town needs and the affordable housing that will have to go along with it. Expensive houses are a key piece of the puzzle if the project is to succeed, but make it clear to the developers that the town’s needs must be met.

Do those things, and then board members can at least be assured they’ve done their level best for the people who elected them. The rest will probably then be up to the town’s voters.

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