Growth debate: ‘Eagle is not a resort’
EAGLE – Land use plans, which guide development decisions, often are perceived as dry, detailed documents that dwell on minutia and spur bureaucratic musings.But good land plans are meant to reflect and protect the values of the communities they guide. To that end, nearly 150 area residents crammed into the Eagle Town Hall last week to discuss how the town should grow. The Feb. 21 session was part of the overall update of the Eagle Area Community Plan. In the original plan, authored in 1996, a “small town, non-resort atmosphere” was identified as a key characteristic of Eagle.
A citizen’s advisory committee and the town last week hosted a meeting at which citizens were encouraged to say what they like and dislike about Eagle and what should happen to the town in the future. “Clean air and water, open space, wildlife and easy access to facilities,” Brush Creek resident Arlene Quenon said. Fred Schmidt, who recently moved to Eagle from Miami, said he valued the safety and freedom his grandchildren have in Eagle.”Eagle is not a resort,” added longtime Brush Creek resident Wendy Griffith. “If we have a party in the park it’s because we want to get together. We do it for ourselves, not for visitors.”The environment and local wildlife also had many advocates at the session. Several speakers noted the presence of the large elk herd that has spent much of the winter grazing in town. Numerous citizens commented on the need to protect wildlife.
And many, many residents talked about how they valued the outdoors.”Eagle is like an adult summer camp,” said Larry Grossman. “I’m basically living a fantasy here.”Other popular Eagle characteristics included locally owned businesses, recreation paths, the library, pool, ice rink and multi-generational population. Others said Eagle was a friendly, welcoming town. “Our best asset is the people of Eagle,” said Scot Hunn, a Town Board member.
Following the large-group session, participants divided into small groups to offer input via sticky-notes and conversation on topics such as open space and environment, transportation, and economic development. They also had an opportunity to spell out their vision for various neighborhoods, downtown Eagle, and the east and west entrances to town. Some residents took home a “workbook” to spend more time writing down their comments.Town Planner Bill Gray said previous growth policies identified an ideal population of 7,000 to 9,000 residents. The rapid growth of the past decade has pushed against those figures.In the coming weeks, the advisory committee, town planners and consultants will draw up several possible policies, which will be presented at a meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m., April 26. This article first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.