Jan Rosenthal Townsend: Eagle’s money troubles exaggerated | VailDaily.com

Jan Rosenthal Townsend: Eagle’s money troubles exaggerated

Jan Rosenthal Townsend

Although I’d prefer not to give the time of day to Frances Rolater’s Aug. 17 column, I feel compelled to correct several inaccuracies.

1) On France’s “must-do” shopping trip to Glenwood, were those stores “fully” staffed, bustling with shoppers and their parking lots full?

2) My neighborhood overlooks town and East Eagle, I own my store in downtown, pay triple-property taxes, contribute sales tax to the town coffers, sit on the chamber board helping 400 small businesses and give back to this community, including supporting my neighbors by shopping here. Eagle River Station would affect me in many ways. Eagle’s finances didn’t stop Frances from choosing to open a store in Beaver Creek instead of Eagle ” where the real disposable income is.

3) I have great concern that the majority of Eagle citizen’s desires are being “filtered” by some members of the Eagle Area Community Plan committee ” with Frances leading the pack. The town manager’s (Willy Powell) appearance at the Aug. 7 meeting and his “economic strategy” has many of us wondering ” why is Willy (and Roxie Deane ” trustee and former mayor) seemingly pushing so hard for Eagle River Station? And who donated to the ice rink and pool ” Merv Lapin?

4) Years ago, with Willy at the helm, that town board’s ridiculously poor decision to give away the airport/Gateway Center revenues to Gypsum has put us in whatever alleged financial situation we are in today. Why should we make another grave mistake? Despite our town budget, Willy has said “we aren’t broke.” Frances and Fred Schmidt should stop playing the “we are so poor” card. No one is playing their violin for us “poor” Eagle folks.

5) Our plan ” which CAN work, includes seeking out higher paying, high-tech oriented, “sustainable” businesses. The county is working on a great, mixed-use infill plan for the truly “blighted” area along Highway 6. Those are way better goals to strive for than Eagle River Station, wherein we may see money 20 years down the road. There are aspirations to build a kayak park, which have been highly successful in Salida and other areas. Events are a great goal. They also are a high priority to the majority of citizens (stated in the 2007 town survey) and have proven to bring in large income with all sorts of economic trickle-down effects. We should entertain all alternatives to Eagle River Station ” not putting all our eggs in one broken basket.

There was/is huge citizen input ” preserving small town character, no big boxes, doing infill and concentrating on downtown and existing tax producing businesses. Also, the 2007 survey says “large format retail” is a low priority.

6) Eagle River Station is enormous, with no critical mass to support it. People aren’t going to come from the Western Slope at $4 per gallon to shop at yet another mall. And what about the 581 condos the project calls for? How about all the new affordable housing projects which have very few sales? How about the critical lack of employees? Eagle River Station will need 1,700-plus. Frances’s mention of “wish list” tenants means nothing until they ink a deal. And that is still no assurance of success, especially with all the breaking of leases and store/restaurant closings. Bennigans, Steak N Ale, TCBY and Mrs. Fields just added to that growing list! The developers haven’t even come close to convincing us that Eagle River Station will work or be sustainable and they have no experience in housing or in small markets. They also haven’t convinced us that they give a rat’s behind about any of us. It’s all about money. Also, we haven’t been sitting on our hands, we’ve been listening to Eagle River Station for more than two years and the developers are still spinning reality.

Vince Riggio with Trinity/RED has recently said that Nordstroms and a Whole Foods-type store is coming and that there is very little opposition. Talk about mistruths and spin!

7) Frances manned the “East Eagle” booth at the last Eagle Area Community Plan open house. I heard her tell people that CDOT won’t do an interchange closer than 2 miles to the existing one and that the airport interchange was not approved. Ironically it was “her” false information which prompted me to contact CDOT. Their open-house summary results (2006) concluded that a) most don’t want an east interchange they want one to the west, b) the east interchange would be 1.8 miles away from the existing interchange ” still creating a bottleneck at the main round about, and c) the airport interchange is totally approved, there’s just no funding yet. Most interesting is that the town never presented those findings to the public and the press never mentioned me exposing them!

8) Eagle River Station is not compliant with numerous Eagle Area Community Plan goals, which is the reason for the denial from the planning and zoning commission. A lot has changed since 1996. Feasibility and economic conditions must be considered.

9) I never said that Eagle River Station was five times larger than Flat Irons Mall “I said it was five times larger than downtown and it’s the size of Flat Irons (it will certainly appear to be that big with it’s density, heights and all the housing). The relevance is that we already have five shopping districts and a real downtown! Eagle River Station is bigger than all of them put together, would create sprawl, the demise of existing businesses and another town within Eagle ” with 1,500 new folks ad 24,000 vehicular trips per day!

Again, Eagle River Station is wrong for many reasons. Proponents won’t convince us otherwise, so stop the spin. For real facts, go to http://www.citizens4eagle.com.

Jan Rosenthal Townsend is an Eagle area resident and business owner.

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