Keeping Edwards’ heart green |

Keeping Edwards’ heart green

Don Rogers

The Vail Valley Foundation pounced on an opportunity Saturday to spare part of the old Eaton ranch from the Avon Stolport’s fate. Or give it a good shot, anyway.When developers with visions of shops and homes and such where the Edwards gravel pit now sits let their option to purchase the land lapse, the foundation decided to take a chance.The idea is to preserve this 72-acre parcel as open space, or at least a significant share of it. But the land isn’t saved yet, not by a longshot. All the foundation did really was buy time for other alternatives to yet more development in Eagle County’s population center.And the price is steep at $12 million, since we’re talking about outright purchase, not just the development rights. The foundation put down $25,000 now, with $500,000 due Jan. 15, and the rest at closing in a year from now.The idea is for the community to raise the money necessary for the purchase, along with grants from open space organizations, the state government and Eagle County. Selling off part of the land to save the rest will be an option as well, no doubt, although that is not in the current plan.There are adjoining wetlands and flood plain to limit development, although the same developers still have a contract to buy 105 acres on the western end of the gravel pit and beyond, which they plan to develop to the extent they can.The gravel pit is scheduled to be reclaimed this year, and soon enough will revert to pastureland. At least for a time. What happens about this time next year depends on how much money can be raised to buy the land from the Eaton family.It’s a gamble, perhaps a last gasp. But now the community at least has a chance to keep the heart of Edwards green, if enough people with the means are interested. There’s some resonance in that the land in question is part of an original homestead.The foundation in the end moved quickly to set this up, but the idea had been around for the better part of the past year. Developer Jen Wright, who helped negotiate this deal, suggested it to the foundation as a means of preserving open space.So now the opportunity is here. How much do we care as a community about keeping this piece by the river green?Stay tuned. The answer is just a year away. Vail, Colorado

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