Gypsum considers new flight options |

Gypsum considers new flight options

Derek Franz
Eagle Valley Enterprise
Vail, CO Colorado

GYPSUM, Colorado -Change is flying into the Eagle County Regional Airport.

Kent Myers, a consultant from Airplanners, presented an outline for a three-year, new-flight plan to the Gypsum Town Council on Tuesday night.

The plan doesn’t eliminate current flight service routes. It entails phasing in new ones to tap into markets such as Toronto.

The plan involves input from the entire county and the airport, and Myers is looking for pledges from each entity to raise $525,000 and launch the plan. The county and airport have pledged a total of $125,000 so far.

“What I’m requesting from Gypsum is a pledge of $30,000,” Myers said after presenting data that gave some indication which parts of the county are benefiting the most from the airport.

“There are 250 direct employees of the airport – 53 percent of them live in Gypsum and 40 percent in Eagle,” he said. “That gives you an idea of the tax base you’re collecting from the employees alone.”

The council did not vote on anything for the plan on Tuesday and three members were absent – Gary Lebo, Kyle Hall and Mayor Steve Carver, who had to leave early.

Myers said a market like Toronto is very lucrative.

“I started a business there only two years ago and it’s doing great,” he said. “Toronto is growing and people there have money to spend.”

While Eagle County does have input on which flight service markets it wants to pursue, no one here has any say about another change – the type of jets flying into the airport.

“The main passenger jet flying into the Eagle County Regional Airport now is the Boeing 757,” Myers said. “Boeing has already stopped production of that aircraft. The Boeing 737 or 700, or the Airbus 319 is likely to replace it in the next three years.”

The Gypsum Creek Pool experienced a relatively successful first season as a public amenity.

Last spring, the town of Gypsum partnered with the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District to run the formerly private outdoor pool. It opened in mid-June after some initial repairs.

Outdoor pools are costly to operate, which is why the town opted to open the Gypsum Creek Pool on a year-to-year basis as a public amenity.

“The nature of a rectangular body of water is that it will require a subsidy,” said Steve Russell, WECMRD’s director, as he presented the 2011 numbers to the Gypsum Town Council on Tuesday night.

The town and WECMRD anticipated a subsidy of $25,000 to keep the Gypsum Creek Pool open for its first season. Instead, the subsidy ended up closer to $12,000, which will be split between the two entities.

“In general, we like to under-promise and over-deliver, and I think we did that,” Russell said.

Russell presented the data with Scott Ruff, the Gypsum Recreation Center manager. Ruff said staffing the rec center pool and the outdoor pool was the main challenge.

The indoor rec center pool closed regularly for certain hours during the summer to staff Gypsum Creek, and rec center passes were honored there.

“Two-thirds of our attendance at Gypsum Creek was pass-holders,” Russell said. “One-third was paid admissions.”

The other big challenge for an outdoor pool’s revenue is weather. The Gypsum Creek Pool was open 63 days between mid-June and mid-August but there were only 46 full operating days, when it didn’t close due to weather. June was warm and sunny but July was rainy.

“If July had been like June, we would have done even better,” Ruff said.

The 2011 statistics for Gypsum Creek also revealed that attendance was steady throughout the week. On average, there wasn’t a day that typically saw more business than the rest.

“I hope you consider reopening it next year,” Ruff told Town Council members.

Most of the major repairs to the facility have already been made at this point. Some more changes might be needed next year as well, however.

Russell said approximately $3,000 to $5,000 should be budgeted to install a second access point and bring the pool into compliance with new codes.

The slide is also likely to be removed or replaced. A boy lost his grip on the ladder and broke his wrist this summer. That was the only incident all season, Ruff said, but the slide’s quality isn’t befitting of a public pool.

The Gypsum Creek Pool is part of the town’s municipal golf course, which was formerly known as Cotton Ranch.

The Gypsum Town Council approved an economic development agreement with Costco that will allow the large retailer to install diesel fuel pumps at its gas station in Gypsum.

Work is likely to start Oct. 1 and finish by Nov. 15. No new pumps are being added. Two old ones are being replaced and the same number of fuel lines will be available as before once the work is finished.

“Places upvalley are not happy about this but it’s good for Gypsum,” commented council member Tim McMichael. “There is a demand for diesel here.”

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